Tag Archives: identity

A country lost

By: Cyril Almeida

IT began with the flag. A strip of white slapped on, but separate and away from the sea of green — the problem was there from the very outset: one group cast aside from the rest.

A more prescient mind would have thought to put the white in the middle, enscon-ced in a sea of green, a symbolic embrace of the other.

But why blame the flag?

It began with the founding theory.

A country created for Muslims but not in the name of Islam. Try selling that distinction to your average Pakistani in 2012. 1947 was another country and it still found few takers.

Pakistan’s dirty little secret isn’t its treatment of non-Muslims or Shias or the sundry other groups who find themselves in the cross-hairs of the rabid and the religious. Pakistan’s dirty little secret is that everyone is a minority.

It begins with Muslim and non-Muslim: 97 per cent and the hapless and helpless three. But soon enough, the sectarian divide kicks in: Shia and Sunni. There’s another 20 per cent erased from the majority.

Next, the intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafi and the Ahl-e-Hadith. Seventy per cent of Pakistan may be Hanafi, five per cent Ahl-e-Hadith.

Then the intra-intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafis split between the growing Deobandis and the more static Barelvis.

And finally, within the 40 per cent or so that comprise Barelvis in Pakistan, there’s the different orders: the numerous Chishtis, the more conservative Naqshbandis and the microscopic Qadris.

In Pakistan, there is no majority.

There’s the terror that every minority lives in: non-Muslim from Muslim, Shia from Sunni, Barelvi from Wahabi, secular Sunni from rabid Barelvi — the future is now and it is bleak.

Some mourn the passing of Jinnah’s vision and seek solace in his Aug 11 speech. But there never was an Aug 11 version of Pakistan: it was stillborn, killed off by the religious right as soon as it was articulated.

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Israel and Pakistan

By IQBAL JAFAR

No two countries in the world are so close in their experience as a young nation and yet so far apart in their political compulsions as Israel and Pakistan.

To a lesser degree of uniqueness, these two countries have much to do with the questions of war and peace in the vast landmass from the Nile Valley to the Indus Valley, that once was a cradle of civilization, and could next be its graveyard. What happens in these two countries and between them and their neighbors should be of great interest for the international community.

Born only a few months apart, both on a Friday, Israel and Pakistan share an incredibly long list of other remarkable, even uncanny, commonalities.

Consider: both were carved out of a British colony; both were created in the name of religion by leaders who were secularists at heart; both were born as geographical oddities, Israel in three blocs and Pakistan in two; both saw large-scale exodus and immigration in the first year of their existence; both got involved in territorial disputes with their neighbors immediately after birth; both have borders that have yet to stabilize after more than six decades of existence.

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The Quaid and the Quetta massacre

By Haider Nizamani

If Muhammad Ali Jinnah happened to be on the Quetta-bound bus of Shia pilgrims on June 28, the self-proclaimed custodians of Islam would have killed him, along with 13 others. They would do so because Jinnah was a Shia and that would have been reason enough.

Jinnah, for most Pakistanis today, is the Quaid-e-Azam — the man above any sect in the Islamic Republic. As the Republic he founded increasingly becomes a place where minorities feel vulnerable, it would be remiss to forget that the founder of the country was a Shia. Born into an Ismaili family, he later converted to the Twelver (isna ashri) branch of Shia Islam. He died in 1948 and his sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, filed an affidavit in the Sindh High Court stating that her brother was a “Shia Khoja Mohamedan”. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, jointly signed the affidavit. Khaled Ahmed, in his book Sectarian War, documents in detail how the last rites of the Quaid were performed according to Shia stipulations. Jinnah’s Shia colleagues such as Yusuf Haroon and Hashim Raza attended the namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer) at the Governor General’s House, while prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan waited outside in the adjacent room. After the Shia funeral prayer, the nascent state took the body for Sunni last rites at the grounds where now stands the Quaid’s mausoleum in Karachi. Miss Fatima Jinnah passed away in 1967 and in her case, too, private last rites were performed according to Shia guidelines and the state-sponsored namaz-e-janaza followed it.

Sunni militant outfits portray Shias as lesser Muslims and thus, lesser Pakistanis. This commandeering of state discourse on Islam from the 1980s onward has emboldened the militants to take up arms against their coreligionists in select parts of Pakistan.

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Comment – If Pakistani youth is the last hope, then we are doomed

By: Faraz

Ahmad Rashid is naïve in his expectations from the youth. Youth holds a mixture of strange contradictory thoughts. Fed with textbook propaganda, Hindu hatred provides basis for nationalism. Removing this hatred will create a severe identity crisis for the already confused youth. Their Paknationalism conflicts with their ummah hood, which they seldom realize. They are more concerned with deaths of Muslims in Palestine or Kashmir than inside the country. Youth are, to borrow Tarek Fateh’s book title, chasing a mirage of a perfect Islamic system that never existed. Youth has developed a strange paranoid mindset which sees conspiracies everywhere. One can get labeled a CIA agent or Zionist stooge on mere twitter/Facebook/blog comments. They seriously think that foreign agencies hire ordinary people to shake the moral/ideological foundations of Pakistan. They see politicians as corrupt and Generals as saviors. They see ethnicity and cultural diversity as threat to the state. Regarding terrorism, mostly live in state of denial. Anti-Americanism is on its peak. People hate the West; even Pakistanis living in West see no contradiction in hating the country where they live. Youth has little idea about economy and capitalism. And most of their views on foreign policy revolves around ghairat. Their idiot savior Imran khan has played a major role in de-intellectualizing the internal debate on foreign policy, economy, politics, civil military imbalance, terrorism. If youth is the last hope, then we are doomed.

Read more » Brown Pundits

http://www.brownpundits.com/?p=7179#comment-10758

Who orchestrated the exodus of Sindhi Hindus after Partition?

By Haider Nizamani

Excerpts;

….. The lone source Ajmal sahib has cited is not a thoroughly researched book but a ‘polemical brochure’ written by the then-secretary of the Sindh Assembly Congress Party, PV Tahalramani, in November 1947 to persuade the Indian state to intervene in Sindh. Let’s look at the role the Sindhi leadership in the days immediately following Partition and compare it with the role of some key figures of the central government on the matter of anti-Hindu riots. Because of space constraints I will only briefly refer to the political leanings and the role of the Sindhi Hindu leadership of that time in facilitating the migration of Hindus from Sindh. The exodus of Hindus from Sindh cannot be seen in isolation from the influx of refugees in Sindh and the setting up of the central government of the newly-founded state of Pakistan in Karachi, Sindh.

Sindh’s governor, Francis Mundie, described Sindh in the days leading up to Partition as a place which “characteristically carries on almost as if nothing had happened or was about to happen”. It changed when, according to Hamida Khuhro, Karachi rapidly became “a vast refugee camp”, making Jinnah “extremely worried about the mass exchange of population which was taking place and the bloodshed that accompanied it…. In fact Jinnah told Ayub Khuhro, premier of Sindh, categorically that he expected to retain the minority communities in Pakistan. Khuhro fully agreed with Jinnah. Hindus, he felt, ‘were an essential part of the society and economy of the province’. The events took an ugly turn in Karachi and Hyderabad (where) the new arrivals were entering and occupying houses where the owners, particularly Hindus, were still living, and throwing out the owners”.

Congress leaders advised Hindus to leave Sindh which was viewed by the Sindhi Muslim leadership as a ploy to deprive Sindh of its merchants, bankers, and sanitation workers. According to Brown University’s associate professor of history Vazira Zamindar’s book The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia (Columbia University Press, 2007): Ayub Khuhro, the premier of Sindh, and other Sindhi leaders also attempted to retain Sindh’s minorities, for they also feared a loss of cultural identity with the Hindu exodus.” The Sindh government “attempted to use force to stem” the exodus “by passing the Sindh Maintenance of Public Safety Ordinance” in September 1947. On September 4, 1947 curfew had to be imposed in Nawabshah because of communal violence. It turned out that the policies of a local collector resulted in the exodus of a large Sikh community of Nawabshah to make room for an overflow of refugees from East Punjab. The Sindh government took stern action to suppress the violence.

The Sindh government set up a Peace Board comprising Hindu and Muslim members to maintain order in the troubled province. PV Tahilramani was secretary of the Peace Board. He is the one who rushed to Khuhro’s office on January 6, 1948, at around 11 am to inform the chief minister that the Sikhs in Guru Mandir areas of Karachi were being killed. According to Khuhro, senior bureaucrats and police officials were nowhere to be found and he rushed to the scene at around 12.30 pm where he saw “mobs of refugees armed with knives and sticks storming the temples”. Khuhro tried to stem the violence and Jinnah was pleased with his efforts.

The prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was angry with Khuhro when he went to see him on January 9 or 10. Liaquat said to Khuhro: “What sort of Muslim are you that you protect Hindus here when Muslims are being killed in India. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself!In the third week of January 1948, Liaquat Ali Khan said the Sindh government must move out of Karachi and told Khuhro to “go make your capital in Hyderabad or somewhere else”. Liaquat said this during a cabinet meeting while Jinnah quietly listened. The Sindh Assembly passed a resolution on February 10, 1948, against the Centre’s impending move to annex Karachi. The central government had already taken over the power to allotment houses in Karachi. Khuhro was forced to quit and Karachi was handed over to the Centre in April 1948.

The above facts made me write that the violence against Sindhi Hindus and their mass migration to India was a tragic loss scripted, orchestrated and implemented by non-Sindhis in Sindh. I will happily withdraw my claim when furnished with the evidence to the contrary.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/388663/who-orchestrated-the-exodus-of-sindhi-hindus-after-partition/

The Punjabi hegemony on Pakistan

The Punjabi hegemony

By Raza Habib Raja

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at its creation, there were two large sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping movements. The first was primarily centred around Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims, nevertheless did not have that strong separatist thrust at least in the beginning.

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Persecution – Connivance at a cost

Targeted killings of Shias this time is not business-as-usual. It follows the pattern that is evident countrywide and it is linked to the Taliban finding new havens and areas of control

By Raza Rumi

It seems that Pakistan is heading towards another purge — this time a violent process of cleansing the Shia population. There is a mysterious wave of terrorism that is killing Hazara population on a daily basis in Balochistan, Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan, Kurram Agency and elsewhere.

In the last one-month, dozens of Shias have been targeted and killed as if Pakistan was a medieval land, practicing witch-hunting. The ‘banned’ organisations have taken responsibility for most of the attacks in Balochistan.

The case of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), on the other hand, has faced a virtual media blackout. Not long ago, GB was touted as the fifth province but when it comes to the vital question to protecting its population, the state is miserably failing.

The most gruesome incident took place when 15 passengers of the Shia community were taken off the buses in Chilas, Diamer district, and shot. People from the region say that GB is under attack by the Taliban insurgents from Malakand division and Waziristan. The Darel and Chilas Valleys provide them refuge. The stronghold of Salafis and Wahabis on Pakistan’s Afghan and, consequently, Taliban policy cannot be delinked from the ongoing massacre.

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An Open Letter to Prime Minister of India to Demand for DD SINDHI channel – From Sindhis of India

By Dilip Tekchandani, India

Please write a post card to the Prime Minister of India to demand for the DD SINDHI channel, the text for the letter is given below;

Dr. Man Mohan Singh,

Honorable Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 11 00 01

Dear Sir, I am a SINDHI speaking Citizen of India. We sacrificed our motherland SINDH for the Independence of India.

Help us to preserve our Language, Culture & Identity through TV. Give us 24 Hours DD SINDHI channel to preserve our Identity.

Thank you

Sindhi Citizens of India

Sindhis should join Imran Khan – Tehrik-e-Insaaf?

By Khalid Hashmani

There is a discussion on Sindhi e-lists! It is quite eloquent. However, much of what is being stated has very little to do whether or not Sindhis should vote for Imran Khan and his Taheek-e-Insaf party. The arguments about love, fear, freedom, and slavery are mere generalities that could support or oppose the subject. Although, the manifesto of Tahreek has been substantially generalized as it now appears on their website, I had written a note after visiting their website in May 2007.

I ask the proponents of the suggestion that is arguing that Sindhis should support Imran Khan to provide arguments as to how Tahreek-e-Insaf and Imran Khan have changed since May 2007 except that there now only talk in generalities and foster Pakistani identity. We should recognize the fact that his political party Pakistan Trek-i-Unsafe (PIT) does not have a Sindh-friendly manifesto and it doesn’t recognize historical rights of Sindhis within their existing national territory.

Courtesy » Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, December 13, 2011

Washington Sindhis Join in “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” Festivities

It is not only Sindhi-speaking people who are participating but also Pashto-speaking Sindhis, Urdu-speaking Sindhis, and Punjabi-speaking Sindhis, who live in Sindh are demonstrating their love for Sindh.

By Khalid Hashmani

The Sindhis who live in and around the Washington DC area joined festivities of the annual “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day”. The event was organized by Mrs. Nasreen and Mr. Iqbal Tareen at their residence in McLean suburb on the night between Saturday, November 19 and November 20, 2011. Several local Sindhis joined Tareens in this event to make it a memorable celebration of Sindhi culture, language and identity.

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Vanishing Sindhis!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

I share the following appeal from Mr. Mekan Vandiyar on “Vanishing Sindhis!”. Please share your comments and suggestions to mekan39@yahoo.com

My own comment is that Sindhis in Sindh, Sindhis in India and Sindhis living elsewhere should not be disheartened as there are encouraging signs that Sindhis all over the world can even say today “here is a Sindhi girl / boy from the Globe”. I do not have much insight into the notion that Sindhis in India can win a separate province, however, I feel that the harsh barriers that have kept Sindhis in India and Sindhis in Sindh, Pakistan away from each other will soon vanish and all Sindhis will also be be able to say “”here is a Sindhi girl / boy who loves Sindh as much as their new homeland“.

A recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani government that they are normalizing business and economic relations and giving each other the “most favorite trading partner” status is one of those signs. The Sindhis from all over the world should not only encourage but also organize and participate in events that welcome every Sindhi regardless of where they live now. For example, the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) whose members predominantly consist of those who migrated from Sindh (Pakistan) into the USA has been in the forefront of inviting prominent educationalists, political leaders, and writers who now live in India. It is time that all other Sindhi associations also follow this practice to bridge the gaps that may exist between various Sindhi communities.

Lastly, I assure Mr. Vandiyar that Sindhis in Sindh are more than ever determined to protect and advance Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture of peace, and Sindhi identity. They are and will continue provide all their support to Sindhis in India or elsewhere in the world in their efforts to protect their and advance their Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture, and Sindhi identity.

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Pak society is “effectively cannibalizing itself” due to dehumanization of Ahmadis

Ahmadis: The lightning rod that attracts the most hatred

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.– Illutration by Faraz Aamer Khan

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim, DAWN.COM

A month after ten Ahmadi students were expelled from two schools in the village of Dharinwala, in Faisalabad district, all have been put back to school, not in there old ones, but in two schools in Hafizabad, thanks to Khalil Ahmad, father and grandfather of four students who were among those expelled.

“I managed to get all of them enrolled in two schools in the nearby city of Hafizabad,” he said talking to Dawn.com over phone from his village.

But it’s not been easy. Most parents of the expelled children are too poor, so Ahmed volunteered to pay for their admissions, their books and stationery. And that is not all. He, with the help of his two sons, makes sure they drop and pick all of them on a motorbike, doing turns.

In one school, the principal knows he has given admission to Ahmadi students but the educator believes faith should not come in the way of those seeking education. “In the other the principal has not been told,” Ahmed revealed.

Sadly, all during this episode, the government has remained a quiet bystander, as always.

It is not the first time that students have been expelled from an educational institution in Punjab because of their religious affiliations, remarked Bushra Gohar, a parliamentarian belonging to the secular Awami National Party.  According to Gohar, her party members had condemned the expulsion of students belonging to the Ahmadiyya community each time on the floor of the house. “However, a protest or condemnation from the parties leading in the Punjab has not been forthcoming,” she said.

For far too long, Pakistani students belonging to this minority community have been facing various forms of discrimination based on their faith.

“This tidal wave against the Ahmadiyya education shows no sign of ebbing,” Saleemuddin, the spokesperson of the Ahmaddiya Jammat, told Dawn.com.

He said after 1984, when the government promulgated the anti Ahmadiyya ordinance, both the government and the clerics have been trying their utmost to punish them in various ways.

“Ahmadi lecturers were posted away to distant locations and some were not allowed to teach. Ahmadi principals and headmasters were replaced. Ahmadi students were deprived admission in professional colleges. They were refused accommodation in attached hostels. They suffered attacks by extremist elements on campuses.”

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of the Islami Jamiat has been tasked to cleanse the educational institutions, including universities and professional colleges of Ahmadi students.

Hasan Ahmed, who was among the 23 students who were expelled from Punjab Medical College, in Faisalabad, back in 2008, can never forget the stressful event and how “night after night, for over a month” he kept stressing over the events that turned his settled student life all topsy-turvy.

“I knew it happened to others, so was not completely caught unawares,” Hasan acknowledged. He is at present completing his house job in Lahore, keeping an “ultra busy schedule”.

Eventually all were re-instated in some college or another. “After months of waiting, just before exam, my friend was sent to Bahawalpur while I went off to a distant place of Rahimyar Khan in a college of lower merit,” narrated Hasan.

After a gargantuan effort, he was finally allowed to appear in exams from Lahore and then got admitted to Allama Iqbal Medical College, in Lahore.

“To be in a state of flux was the worst part of this episode specially since exams were approaching and I didn’t know which place I was to appear from,” said Hasan.

He expressed that till the identity of an Ahmadi remains undisclosed “he remains safe”.

But that is sadly not the case if you are living in Pakistan. People are culturally nosy and want to know your cast and sect. “Eventually they end up finding that you are an Ahmadi. Once they know, you can feel a change of attitude and it just takes a mischief maker to exploit others’ feelings against you,” said Hasan.

Till Hina Akram’s faith remained unknown to her teacher in Faislabad’s National Textile University, she was considered a star student. But after it became known she belonged to the Ahmadiyya community, she faced so much faith-based harassment that she had to quit studies.

“I was told to convert to Islam,” said Hina, who was studying in the sixth semester of her BSc.

“I was handed some anti-Ahmadiyya literature to read, offered a refuge in Muslim home. But when she told the teacher she was an Ahmadi by choice he called her an infidel and warned her of severe consequences.

“You will face such a fire of animosity in the campus that not even the vice chancellor will be able to help you,” he threatened her.

True to his word, a hate campaign was initiated and a social boycott began. Out of college, she is desperately trying to go abroad. Her fate remains in balance.

But it’s not just the education aspect where the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby is hitting, said Saleemuddin. Since 1984, some 208 faith-based killings have taken place. The persecution against the community has surged following the May 28, 2010 massacre of 94 members of the community in Lahore.

After the four million Ahmadis were officially declared non-Muslims in 1984 by the state, they cannot call themselves Muslims or go to mosques. They cannot be overheard praising Prophet Mohammad. To add insult to injury, every Pakistani who claims to be a Muslim and owns a passport has declared that he or she considers them to be non-Muslims and their leader an imposter prophet.

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.

“The extremist elements are getting more and more powerful because of Saudi-US influence and the government’s policy of appeasement,” said I.A. Rehman, General Secretary Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“The Ahmadis are already the worst persecuted minority in our country – and things for them appear to be growing worse as hatred and intolerance spread,” Kamila Hyat, a journalist and a rights activist echoed the same sentiments. “The lack of enforcement of laws to prevent the preaching of hatred adds to the problem,” she added.

Saleemuddin said by allowing the extremist clerics to hold anti-Ahmadiyya rallies and conferences, the government is adding fuel to this venom. “People are openly instigated to kill us in the name of Islam,” he said.

“Violence and the advance of bigotry, prejudice and hate against minorities have never really been met with the resolve needed to remove impunity from the social equation in Pakistan,” Sherry Rehman, a legislator belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, agreed.
Instead, she told Dawn.com what is seen is an “expansion in the space for religious and sectarian apartheids, which has led now to heinous acts of brutality and exclusion of many, particularly Ahmadis.”

She warned: “This is a dangerous trend that conflates national identity with religion.”

Perhaps that is one reason why Pervez Hoodbhoy expresses: “Today, when religion has become so central in matters of the state, they [Ahmadis] do not stand a chance in Pakistan of getting rights, respect, and dignity. The overdose of religion given to young Pakistanis in their schools and homes means that nothing matters more than which religion and sect you belong to. Ahmadis are the lightning rod that attracts more hatred than any other sect.”

For its part rights groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) say they have “repeatedly” raised the issue of “state tolerated persecution”.

“We are urging authorities to intervene in each case,” said Rehman. “But the situation is getting worse day by day.

Terming it “abhorrent and self defeating” when society allows “for the dehumanization of Ahmadis or Christians or the Shia for that matter, it is effectively cannibalizing itself,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director of HRW.

“The federal government expresses regret at incidents but has made clear its unwillingness to repeal or amend discriminatory laws,” said HRW spokesperson.

Given the current intolerance, the fate of the new generation of Pakistani Ahmadis looks “quite bleak” said Rehman.

Even Hoodbhoy said: “For years, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians have been desperately seeking to flee Pakistan. They would be foolish to want to stay,” said Hoodbhoy.

This fails to dampen young Hasan’s spirits. He thinks the future looks “brighter than ever before”.

“Even if the situation is made worse in Pakistan, this does not mean the future is not bright. It’s a matter of time before we start getting equal rights in this country.

Often when they get together, the young Ahmadis discuss the “bitter realities” they have to face as Pakistanis.

“But we don’t want to leave our country at the juncture that it is at,” said a patriotic Hasan. This is because the contribution of the Ahmadi community towards building of Pakistan has been immense,” he said with conviction.

He said recently their leader urged all Ahmadis of the world to “fast once a week and pray” especially for the prosperity of Pakistan.”

Zofeen T. Ebrahim is a freelance journalist.

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

How a Paris Mosque Sheltered Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust

- Heroic Tale of Holocaust, With a Twist

By ELAINE SCIOLINO

PARIS — The stories of the Holocaust have been documented, distorted, clarified and filtered through memory. Yet new stories keep coming, occasionally altering the grand, incomplete mosaic of Holocaust history.

One of them, dramatized in a French film released here last week, focuses on an unlikely savior of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France: the rector of a Paris mosque.

Muslims, it seems, rescued Jews from the Nazis.

“Les Hommes Libres” (“Free Men”) is a tale of courage not found in French textbooks. According to the story, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, provided refuge and certificates of Muslim identity to a small number of Jews to allow them to evade arrest and deportation.

It was simpler than it sounds. In the early 1940s France was home to a large population of North Africans, including thousands of Sephardic Jews. The Jews spoke Arabic and shared many of the same traditions and everyday habits as the Arabs. Neither Muslims nor Jews ate pork. Both Muslim and Jewish men were circumcised. Muslim and Jewish names were often similar.

The mosque, a tiled, walled fortress the size of a city block on the Left Bank, served as a place to pray, certainly, but also as an oasis of calm where visitors were fed and clothed and could bathe, and where they could talk freely and rest in the garden. …

Read more → The New York Times

Death by 140 characters

- The great equaliser: death by 140 characters – Dr Mohammad Taqi

….. The said televangelist, speaking on his current television show, has since impugned the authenticity of the video and has claimed that the clip had been fabricated by way of editing and dubbing to malign him by other channels and jealous people. Maybe so. Moreover, in biometrics, voice authentication is already an established tool, along the lines of fingerprinting, available to forensic scientists to confirm identity.

The video was removed from YouTube due to a copyrights claim. But before that many users of contemporary media had reportedly downloaded it already. The new balance of power is apparently still lost on the media honchos giving space and airtime to hypocrisy, lies and slanted truths. Death by a thousand cuts has decimated superpowers. If they do not heed the audience, death by 140 characters (on Twitter) is the equaliser that could seal the fate of the traditional media dinosaurs running the show.

To read complete article → Daily Times

Sindhis should rethink their priorities before it is too late!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

The Sindhi political analysts and thinkers in Sindh continue to provide further insight into thinking of educated and middle class Sindhis who live in Sindh. These should help Sindhi Diaspora to better understand the ground realities in order to chalk out their actions about their supporting role in awakening of Sindhi society. Indeed, only the determined resolve and courageous actions by masses of Sindh would bring about enough changes to thwart the ill designs of internal and external anti-Sindh forces. Yesterday, I have shared my review on Naseer Memon’s article published in Sindhi daily Kawish on August 13, 2011 under the title “PPP’s recent decision to revive Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own manifesto‏”. Today, I am reviewing an article by Zulfiqar Halepoto that was published yesterday (13 August 2011) in Sindhi daily Awami Awaz. I am currently reviewing Jami Chandio’s article “PPP & a New Sindh” that was published in Sindhi daily Ibrat on 13-14th August, 2011. The purpose of these reviews is to provide a compilation of what Sindhis in Sindh so that Diaspora Sindhis can assess the need and formulate their actions in support of Sindh interests.

Zulfiqar Halepoto articulates the need for “paradigm shift” in Sindh where one political party has been looked upon as the only capable force that can protect their interests and Sindh’s integrity. Where once PPP leaders were honored and welcomed in their communities, most Sindhis are angry and hold PPP responsible for many of their problems.

According to Zulfiqar Halepoto, people of Sindh overwhelmingly voted for PPP in 2008 with the following four expectations:

1. The government of Sindh will be formed without the participation of those that had ruled Sindh for the several years in immediate past. During that time, the Sindhi interests suffered the most as the regimes became oblivious of the collective interests of Sindh and focused on only their personal gains. Sindhis expected PPP to adhere to its pledge not to share power with MQM and dissipate impression that in order to have peace and prosperity of the people of Sindh, MQM must be made a part of the government.

2. The PPP government will find the killers of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and bring them to justice.

3. The PPP government will bring about the required constitutional and administrative changes that the dictatorial regime had brought to weaken native Sindhis and allow only one ethnic group to control Sindh’s larger cities.

4. The governance in Sindh that had suffered greatly in the last 12 years under the regimes that violated Sindhi Rights on all fronts will end. Sindh’s government would be an example of an exemplary governance in Pakistan ensuring welfare of all those who live in Sindh.

Unfortunately, the government of PPP has gone even beyond the status quo and has made sufferings of Sindhis much worse. Sindhis often express that they are now lost and wonder who will protect their interests? PPP thinks that Sindh vote bank is in their pocket and they are not afraid of any backlash from their actions that regularize injustices of previous regimes and further compromising on Sindhi Rights. Like the previous regime headed by a Sindh Chief Minister, PPP too has surrendered its power to MQM whose discriminatory policies against all groups of Sindh not only continues unabated but has worsened. There is an increasing feeling among the people of Sindh that PPP has become part of problem and looking at it as a solution provider is a big mistake!? Most Sindhis think it would be far easier to wedge struggle against a dictator and racist political parties without PPP’s presence.

It would seem to me that PPP had been, at minimum, a silent partners of those who do not wish Sindh & Sindhi identity to survive in Pakistan. These forces want Sindhis should leave their mother tongue and centuries old culture of peace & communal harmoney and to adapt the language of minority as their first language.

Sindhis are angry with PPP and with themselves for misplacing their trust and hopes in PPP. Sindhis do not understand why a PPP which won 90 seats in Sindh would forget their voters within a span of less than three years. Sindhis are disappointed that on the pretext of saving their regime at the center, they have been continually ignoring aspirations and hopes of Sindhis. Instead of creating more opportunities for Sindhis, doors for Sindhis continue to shut, particularly in those areas where they are controlled by MQM. People of Sindh can no longer tolerate this situation and a determined movement towards forming a genuine unity of Sindh on the point that “protection of interests of Sindh is their first priority” is fast spreading among Sindhis living in villages, towns, and cities.

President Asif Zardari has played Sindh as “Sindh card” whenever his rule faced a threat from opposition and the Pakistani security establishment. The “Sindhi Topi Day” was also a part of that gimmickry. It is said that most people in Pakistan think that regardless of what happens, Sindhis will continue to support PPP? This myth is now to great extent shattered as people of Sindh are able to see through the politics of exploitation of Sindhis by internal and external forces. Some non-Sindhi Pakistanis are noticing that a change is brewing among Sindh. Sindhis are now condemning the decisions of PPP that are counter to the interests of Sindh. They are also realizing that Sindhis are not against the integrity of Pakistan and that main demand is to secure equitable rights in Pakistan and preserve their identity, culture, and language.

The anger of Sindh is lost on other political parties in Pakistan as most are now taking steps to seek support of Sindhis. Awami National Party, Jamat-e-Islami, and Sunni Tahrik are now supporting Sindhi demand for cancellation of former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, black, repressive, & discriminatory Local Government Ordinance. MQM is staying silent about the demands of Sindhis. On other side, Sindhis have notice support of Pir Pagaro on this issue. However, Sindhis have not forgiven for his pro-Kala Bagh stand and his support of General Musharraf’s policies that hurt the interests of Sindh.

The Sindhi nationalist parties are remain divided. Although most Sindhis respect those nationalist parties for their their stand on the interests of Sindh, some of these political parties are likely to keep themselves away from the upcoming elections. Their divergent views including the separatist leaning of some have kept their voter bank constrained.

Zulfiqar Halepoto urges Sindhis to look at all aspects of this complicated situation, weigh all options before jumping on any bandwagon. Sindhis should think and formulate strategy, long-term plans and be ready to effectively respond to any tactical challenges. One should look at the success of Pakhoons, who have more than one credible options for exercising their vote. Without a fundamental change in the political landscape of Sindh, Sindhis still only have two serious options – Muslim League and PPP. The Sindh chapters of these two parties are dominated by anti-Sindh waderas, who together with MQM and anti-Sindhi business owners will continue to damage the interests of Sindh.

It is imperative that Sindh nationalist parties create a formidable political party or group that will become a credible second alternative for Sindhis. If this is achieved, it will be an important paradigm jump for Sindhis that will likely bring about a positive development for not only Sindh but also for Pakistan.

Courtesy: → Sindh e-lists/ e-groups, August 14, 2011.

Zulifqar Mirza versus MQM case (I)

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

First of all let me state a disqualifier: All Urdu Speaking are not associated with MQM or religious parties of this ethnic group. The very fact that PPP candidates give a hard time to non-PPP/religious/ethnic politicians show that a large section of Urdu speaking population is progressive, forward looking and identifies itself with other Pakistani people. Great Urdu speaking intellectuals have done a lot for mother tongues and enlightenment of the country. Therefore, Urdu speaking term is generically used in the narrative below for the ones who associate themselves with MQM or UP religious parties. It is a chauvinistic mindset that we are analyzing not a community which is as diverse as Punjabi, Sindhi or other Pakistanis.

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MQM has made a lot of hoopla against Zulifqar Mirza’s statement in which he indicated that:

(i) MQM, led by Altaf, is more criminal than its nemesis Afaq Ahmed against whom no criminal case has been proved in the court. On the contrary, many cases are proved and guilty punished by courts belonging to Altaf group. Altaf has caused more mothers to lose their sons than Afaq, claims Mr. Mirza.

(ii) MQM’s dream of creating a separate province of Karachi-Hyderabad can only materialize on the Sindhis’ dead body. Sindh provide food and shelter to migrant Urdu speaking and will never give them a right to cut it from Sindh.

(iii) Afaq of MQM (Haqiqi) is a political prisoner not a criminal that Altaf wants us to believe.

After scaring the PPP government and other ‘for-rent’ politicians of Punjab, Altaf has called off the protests. He believes he has successfully pushed the truth under carpet that Mirza told the world. However, in doing so, Altaf has taken a familiar position that Mirza has maligned the ‘Pakistan founders.” In other words Urdu speaking Muhajirs are the only founders of Pakistan. In a way he is right and Pakistan’s ongoing mess is created by its acclaimed founders that Altaf is talking about.

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One day, either people of Pakistan will turn the system the other way around or the federating units will walk away from this so-called security state.

A sad story of Pakistan’s military, bureaucratic, judicial, political, and religious leadership has been nothing but a sorry account of power abuse, corruption, conspiracies, hatred, and betrayals. Faisla Aap Ka is a socio-political show hosted by Asma Shirazi which aims to highlight issues faced by the common people. The program is designed as an outdoor based talk show which emphasizes and showcases issues and concerns of people. The anchor seeks street opinion and comments of the public. … The language of the program is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: → SAMAA TV News (Faisla Aap ka with Asma Shirazi – 9th July 2011)

via → ZemTV → YouTube Part 1, 2

Conference on Partition – Past and Present

Conference on Partition – Past and Present, on Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sub topics: 1947 Indian Subcontinent Partition, past and present; Partitions of Bengal; Partitions of Punjab, Kashmir and Assam; Partition studies in the Indian Subcontinent; Effects of partition on Assam, Tripura and Sindh; Bangladesh War of Independence; Reconciliation and forgiveness; Unity; Identity; History; Divided peoples of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Former Soviet Union; Narratives of refugees, survivors and protectors; Division’s long-term effect; Effects of displaced peoples on host population; Minority issues in divided lands; Indigenous peoples, their language, culture and religion; Longing for home. Date: Saturday, October 15, 2011, Time: 8:30 AM, Place: Politics, Economics & Law Department, State University of New York, Old Westbury, Long Island, New York 11568.

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Maududi: Islamisation Will Destroy Pakistan

Syed Farooq Haider, a son of Maulana Maududi. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: The Express TV (Front Line with Kamran Shahid and Farooq Haider)

via Wichaar, YouTube

Sindhi Sangat Seminar – if we all come together, we can make miracles happen!!

Sindhi Sangat Seminar In Mumbai on 30th April

Mumbai: Calling all dedicated Sindhis … All those who want to do something to save their identity… Here is the right opportunity for you… We invest our time & money in so many things – do we treat this important?

We like Hindi and English dramas, dances, music and movies – have we realized such milestones are achieved by Sindhis also in our language but only a handful know about this. Do we realize that our culture is dying out to great extent? Do we know the people behind our rich Sindhi heritage and culture?

A platform to VOICE YOUR ideas Sindhi Sangat invites all young and ‘not so young’ individuals to come and discuss their ideas. Sindhis are dynamic and practical… If we all come together, we can make miracles happen!!

This is a get together of like minded, proud Sindhis will be held in Mumbai on 30th April 2011 at 5 pm. Entry by Invitation Only. You will be informed about more details of the event via email / sms / phone.

A meaningful contribution is what we are looking for from every individual who is a true Sindhi at heart! Contribution is not in monetary terms.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 22, 2011

Interview with Pratap Mehta on Pakistan

- Pratap Mehta: Pakistan’s Perpetual Identity Crisis

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political theorist and intellectual historian based in New Delhi, is leading us through another reflection on the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.

The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”

In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:

The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.

The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.

The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – - Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.

Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.

Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”

Click here to listen Radio Open Source interview with Pratap Mehta, it is much more in depth than the text summary

Courtesy: http://www.radioopensource.org/pratap-mehta-pakistans-perpetual-identity-crisis/

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

- Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

PUNJAB, Punjabi and URDU, The Question of Displaced Identity

PUNJAB, Punjabi and URDU, The Question of Displaced Identity…A Historical Appraisal

by Tahir Kamran

Colonialism was an all-pervasive phenomenon, subjugating 87 percent of the globe by 1914 and the Sub-Continent off course was no exception. It signified colossal change in the realms of economy and polity as well as administration, which attracted sufficient attention of the historians markedly from nationalist persuasion. …

Read more : Wichaar

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Failed state or Weimar Republic?

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances

By Omar Ali

A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?

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A place to call home: Canada helps me explore my true identity

A place to call home

Pakistani-born immigrant credits Canada for helping him explore his identity

by Tayyab Rashid

When I came to North America some 15 years ago, I thought that most of us are migratory beings, or some part of our constitution is. Living in Canada has changed or perhaps expanded my thinking — we are also sedentary souls. …

Read more : via – Siasat.pkCanadianimmigrant.ca

States formed on the basis of religion can never survive a peaceful future (Bertrand Russell) e.g; Pakistan and Israel!

Pakistan’s identity war — II

By Saleem H Ali

What does it mean to be an Islamic state? Was there ever such an entity? Can modernity, as it pertains to developing a functional society in a globalised world, be realised within the context of a theocracy? These are fundamental questions which Pakistanis need to resolve, within this generation, in order for Pakistan to develop and reach its potential.

Pakistan shares the distinction, along with Israel, as being one of only two states to have been crafted, in the post-colonial worlds, on the basis of religion. In both cases enormous migrations were involved with questionable legitimacy for the migrants. The ‘muhajir’ identity continues to be perpetuated, as such, on this basis. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan present a perplexing paradox: Created on the basis of religion, their champions were largely secular individuals. The founders of Zionism as a political force, such as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were secular. So too were Pakistan’s founders, most notably the Quaid-i-Azam. I would argue that Ben Gurion and Jinnah made a dangerous bargain when it came to conflating cultural identity on the basis of religious adherence.

Pakistan and Israel — two states which don’t recognise each other diplomatically — are facing a similar radicalisation because of that initial crisis of identity which was never fully resolved. Theocratic forces are gaining power in both countries. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Pakistan: Over 37 million ‘dubious’ voters found in electoral lists !

Mubashir Luqman is exposing bogus voting in electoral system of Pakistan. That’s why the same ruling elite is re-elected every time. Actually these are Bogus votes but they call it “Sola/ Satra Crore Awaam ka Mandate”.

Courtesy: Dunya TV News (Kharri Baat with Luqman ke Saath – 9th March 2011 – guests Shaikh Rasheed & Imran Khan)

via – ZemTVYou Tube

Manzur Ejaz’s interview with Viewpont: Urdu, English used as tools to oppress working classes’

Excerpt:

It was Awami National Party, led by Wali Khan, that declared Urdu as an official language in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Even the Punjab has never formally made such a move ……

….. Mother tongue is a right of every human being, recognized as such by the UNO. It is also a question of identity: that is why Punjabis are called Punjabis and Sindhis are called Sindhis. The Urdu-speaking dominant population, which migrated to Sindhi cities, imposed its language at the expense of Sindhi language which was in use at all levels –from education to government institution—since 1852-54. When Bhutto recognized the right of Sindhi people for their mother tongue, the Muhajirs felt threatened and issued statements like “Urdu ka janaza he zara dhoom se nikle.” Muhajirs were threatened by the rise of Sindhis not only in linguistic field but in other spheres as well. It was a common complaint among Muhajirs that Sindhis were even showing up at Clifton Karachi. Despite recognition of mother tongue, Sindhis did not demand a ban on Urdu in Sindh. Therefore, for Muhajirs it was not a question of losing identity; it was fear of others gaining identity. ….

Read more : WichaarViewPoint

The Empire Without Clothes – by Waris Husain

-WITHOUT DEVELOPING A SECULAR AND TOLERANT STATE IDENTITY THAT CAN PROVIDE EQUAL PROTECTION TO ALL ITS CITIZENS REGARDLESS OF THEIR BACKGROUND, INCIDENTS LIKE THE ASSASSINATION OF GOV. TASEER WILL BECOME COMMON-PLACE.

-However, the inability of the general public to see the nakedness of Pakistan is due to the inter-generational brainwashing towards conservative orthodoxy.

The heinous murder of Governor Taseer was shocking, but one should consider the reactions in support of his assassin amongst some Pakistanis as a sign that the society is at a crossroads. Governor Taseer’s life was stolen from him because he rejected a blasphemy law based on a narrow-minded view of Islam that subjects the nation’s minorities to discrimination. Laws such as these reveal the increasingly conflicting view of Pakistan’s future: either as a nation that is able to adapt to modern times and protect the rights of all its citizens or one destined for devolution into chaos through a medieval view of Islam and the state. …

Read more : SOVEREIGN MINDS

BELGIUM and THE QUESTION OF IDENTITY

By: Abdul Khalique Junejo.

Holding of general elections and subsequent formation of government, some times coalitions, is just a routine matter and a normal course of life in the countries of Western Europe. But not so in the case of Belgium, the country considered and called to be the ‘Capital of Europe’ since it provides headquarters for European Union and the NATO. The recently held general elections in this tiny country of about 10 millions people made bigger and eye-catching head-lines in the world media; not for any ‘Landside Victory’ but because of a split mandate, a mandate that threatens to split the country. For example the news paper carried the headlines; “Separatists claim victory in Belgian election”. These developments have generated extraordinary interest in this part of the world as many regions /peoples here are encountering the problems of similar nature.

Belgium, being situated between France and Holland, is a bi-lingual country comprising the French-speaking Wallonia people and Flemish-speaking Flanders. For many years the emphasis on the linguistic identity has been on the rise and recently quite vociferous voices have been heard for the dissolution of Belgium and creation of a separate country for the Flemish-speaking people of Dutch origin. New Flemish Alliance, the party advocating for separate country, has emerged as the largest party, not only among the Flanders but in the country as a whole. This has given an exceeding impetus to the demands for the parting of ways between the Flanders and the Wallonia.

Pakistan was created by conjoining of different peoples with their own distinct identity based on history, language and culture. After creation of the new country, these peoples (Bengalis, Sindhis, Balochs etc) started demanding recognition of their identity and asking for the promotion of their culture and language. In response the state-organs used the force of gun and the state-intellectuals used the force of pen to suppress such demands and, instead, promote and impose ‘single identity, single language and single culture’. This ‘strategy’ created strong reaction which manifested itself in the shape of mass movements for the ‘restoration’ of different identities.

One of these movements, Bengali, culminated in the ‘split’ of Pakistan and creation of a new country. Bangladesh while Sindhi and Baloch movements are getting fiercer by the time.

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Speech of Dr. Zafar Baloch (BHRC) to the conference on South Asia

The conference on South Asia was organized by International Center for Peace & Democracy (ICFPD) in collaboration with Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada). The conference took place at Hotel Radisson Toronto, Canada on December 11, 2010.

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPETIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

- ICFPD

Following is the speech delivered by Dr. Zafar Baloch, president of Baloch Human Rights council (Canada) in the conference.

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Spurious symbols — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

I do not understand why pieces of apparel have to be given the status of cultural symbols; only those countries and nations that are culturally bankrupt need to impose them as symbols. This symbolism also reveals the inherent feeling of inferiority and the consequent need to make them appear as important and necessary.

Since last year, at the behest of a commercial television station in Sindh, a so-called ‘Cultural Day’ is being observed in the province. The two media groups that now want to own it celebrate it on two different days. This supposedly Cultural Day is observed by people wearing a Sindhi topi (cap) and an ajrak (shawl). These are being turned into symbols of Sindh; on this day, with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm, many people adorn themselves with these symbols and the youth dance. Some political, cultural and social outfits wholeheartedly participate in it and, sadly, all believe that, with this, they are reinforcing Sindhi identity, which I think they are not. Sindhi identity is much larger and more varied than two pieces of attire. This Cultural Day is nothing but the commercialisation of culture and a means for raking in profits for television stations and the makers of topis and ajraks.

Advocating spurious cultural symbols helps exploiters distract people from the real threats to their identity and rights. The Sindhis participating in this frivolous celebration return home thinking that they have done enough for Sindh and their annual ritual, which it will now become, is adequate to protect the rights of Sindhis. The rights of Sindh demand sacrifices, dedication and struggle, not dancing and frivolity.

The true symbols of Sindh are its valiant sons who sacrificed their lives without hesitation. Makhdoom Bilawal Bin Jam Hassan Sammo (1451 AD/ 856 AH to 30th Safar 1523 AD/929AH) preferred to be ground in the grinder used to extract oil from seeds than to accept the fiat of the Afghan Arghun rulers. He needs to be emulated; his teachings are the cultural symbol needed to awaken the Sindhis. The poetry of Shah Abdul Latif should be made a cultural symbol and the Sindhis should be encouraged to read and memorise his enchanting verses to promote Sindh and its culture and history. His poetry will give them an insight into Sindhi history, geography and culture. …

Read more : Daily Times

A letter to Indus Asia Online Journal

I strongly condemns a “media group” who is often using anti-Sindh term as “Karachi aur Sindh” in their news. It is an abasement and a volley on Sindh’s identity. Karachi is a part of Sindh not apart from Sindh.

Ubedullah Soomro

June 10, 2010