Free Rimsha Masih

The latest victim of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, is an 11 year old girl suffering from Downs Syndrome. Rimshah Masih screamed pitifully as she was brutally snatched from her mother by an angry mob intent on killing her. Burnt religious texts had been mischievously planted in a bag she was carrying. We call on the Pakistani Government to take action to stop the ongoing discrimination, persecution and hatred towards minorities living there. We call on the Britisha Government the EU and the Un to intervene on behalf of this poor child and to bring about her freedom.

To bring an end to hatred towards minority faiths in conservative Pakistan and to defend otherwise helpless victims like Rimsha please sign the petition below:

This petition will be sent to the Pakistan High Commission and 10 Downing Street.

Here our song for Rimsha here:

Read more » Petition Buzz

» To Sign a Petition to Free Rimsha Masih

Pakistan is beautiful – and it’s mine

By Shehrbano Taseer

2011 was a bleak year for Pakistan — even by its own harrowing standards.

My father, Governor SalmaanTaseer, was assassinated by his own fanatical security guard in January for his stand on Pakistan’s cruel blasphemy laws, and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the federal cabinet, was gunned down in March allegedly by the Punjabi Taliban for holding a similar view. In April, five of the six men accused of gang raping village woman Mukhtar Mai on the orders of a village council of elders were set free by the Supreme Court. Since the sexual assault on her in 2001, Mai has braved death threats to have her victimisers punished. She has appealed the verdict, but the court, it is widely believed, is unlikely to reverse the acquittal.

In May, Pakistanis around the world hung their heads in shame as Osama bin Laden was found and killed in sleepy, sedate Abbottabad, a stone’s throw from our premier military academy where Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani spoke just weeks earlier declaring that the “terrorists’ back” had been broken.Then the tortured body of journalist Saleem Shahzad was discovered and suspicion fell on the country’s intelligence services. Pakistan had yet to recover from the devastation wrought by the 2010 floods when the August monsoons inundated Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and especially Sindh affecting tens of million of people. My older brother, Shahbaz, was kidnapped on August 26. It’s January 2012 now and he is still missing.

These are just some of the highlights from a ruefully eventful year. All of these events played out against the cacophonous discord that we have become accustomed to: target killings, routine disappearances in Kashmir and Balochistan, suicide bombings, riots decrying the overall economic condition of the country, protests mourning the loss of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the unsettling hum of rote learning at poisonous madrassas.

But there’s nothing that’s bad about Pakistan that can’t be fixed by what’s good about it. The narrative of lost hope is a tired one.

After the Arab Spring, the first question I was asked by journalists and interviewers was “When will it be Pakistan’s turn?”. General Zia tried hard to convince us that we’re Arabs, but we clearly are not. Watching Muammar Qaddafi’s bloodied and bullet-riddled body paraded up and down streets as protesters cheered, and seeing desperate dictators inflict violence on their own people, I realised that in many ways Pakistan is far ahead. Our transition from a dictatorship to a democracy was relatively smooth — no bloodshed, no political prisoners, no violence. And in 2010 — long before the Arab Spring — Pakistan’s nascent democracy returned the powers usurped by dictators back to parliament with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed unanimously in parliament. As a people, we are more critical, more engaged. We believe in peaceful evolution of existing structures, not revolution. A record number of people have registered to vote in the upcoming elections and the deadline isn’t even up yet. We’ve snatched our democracy back and we’re not letting it go.

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Something fishy going on: Human Rights in Sindh

“In January 1948—about four months after the creation of Pakistan—the federal government of Pakistan sponsored pogroms by refugees against Hindu Sindhis in Karachi, then the shared capital of Sindh and Pakistan. The pogroms resulted in the massacre of over 1200 Sindhis. When the Sindh government attempted to restore public order and return looted property, Pakistan removed the duly elected Sindh government from office. Today, exiled Hindu Sindhis are denied the Right of Return.”

“Of the approximately 30 million Sindhis living in Sindh today, approximately 3 million are Hindus and suffer particularly under Pakistan’s oppressive laws and dis-criminatory practices. Pakistan imposes the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy.”

“With the connivance of the Pakistani authori-ties, tens of thousands of Sindhis, including a disproportionately large number of Hindu and Christian Sindhis, are held in virtual slavery as bonded laborers.”

“The last census systematically undercounted the number of Sindhis. The census forms in Sindhi were simply printed in insufficient quantities so data could not be collected in many remote villages. In addition, Hindu Sindhis were intimidated by Pakistani authorities who ac-companied the census takers in Sindh.”

“The Pakistani government has designated homes and businesses of Hindu Sindhis in this area as ‘Enemy Evacuee Property’ and seized the legal deeds to their properties.”

“Religious Studies has been made a compulsory subject for Muslims in all government and private schools. The officially mandated textbooks preach a fundamentalist and militant ideology, contravening the indigenous universalist Sufi beliefs of the Sindhis.”

“Pakistan controls all public and private advertising in newspapers through a government body called the Pakistan Information Board. In 2003, the government ordered a cut in Sindhi newspapers’ advertisement ‘quota’ by an additional 50%. Although Sindhi speakers account for about 20% of Pakistan’s population, Sindhi newspapers now receive less than 1% of the total advertising revenue.”

“In 1999, the largest circulation Sindhi monthly magazine Subhu Theendo (‘A New Day will Dawn’) was banned for spreading disaffection against the ‘ideology of Pakistan.’ The magazine focused on sustainable development and environmental protection.”

“A majority of the officials and government employees appointed in Sindh do not speak the Sindhi language. Pakistan refuses to allow the use of Sindhi in University entrance examinations or in job interviews for government employees in Sindh, and severely limits radio and television broadcasts in the language.”

“Pakistan has built several mega-dams and barrages up-stream that have impeded the flow of the Indus (Sindhu) River and its tributaries to Sindh. As a consequence, the floodplains that fed Sindh’s forests are gone, resulting in massive deforestation: less than 20% of the original 600,000 acres of forest land is now being regenerated. “

“Water no longer flows to the sea; as a consequence, the mangrove forests have experienced a 90% decline—from 2400 square kilometers to 200 square kilometers. With-out protection from the mangrove forests, seawater has encroached—inundating 1.2 million acres of agricultural land and uprooting residents of 159 villages. The once plentiful seafood catch has been drastically reduced. The net result is that throughout Sindh, poverty levels, malnutrition and disease now match those in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“The Sindhi national poet, Shaikh Ayaz (d. 1999) was charged with treason—a crime punishable by death—for advocating peace with India.”

Courtesy » Sonething fishy’s going on

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

We are living in a Taliban state – by Nayyer Khan

- The ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate

Recently, a police SHO barged into Nairang Gallery located on Jail Road, Lahore, which is an art gallery-cum-rendezvous spot for the city’s social and cultural elite, intelligentsia and artistic and bohemian classes, and harassed the staff as well as visitors and customers present for violating the ‘holiness’ of Ramzan. According to him, food and beverages were being served there during fasting hours. He also objected to the attire of the female staff and customers there, calling it revealing and thus un-Islamic, and against the sacredness of Ramzan. He did not like both genders mixing freely either. He misbehaved with and even manhandled the female curator of the gallery. This incident has stirred a wave of condemnation and protest from civil society and the cultured classes.

This kind of forced ‘sanctification’ of Ramzan is a routine matter in small cities and towns in Pakistan. Such highhandedness by the authorities in small places is seldom reported in the media. For instance, the following incident, which, somehow, did get reported in a leading daily may give a faint idea as to what kind of thrusting of one’s values on others is prevalent in our society.

On September 16, 2009, during the month of Ramzan, about two dozen people were made to parade semi-naked in a market place in Mianwali, with their hands tied by the clothes stripped off their bodies, on the orders of a deputy district officer before they were put into the lockup. The guilt of those subjected to this humiliation was that they were caught sipping tea at some tea stalls at the railway station and bus stands during fasting timings.

This act of disgracing human beings reminds one of the black days of General Zia when ‘Ramzan violators’ were given similar treatment by the authorities, by painting their faces black or shaving their heads in public. But the irony of the matter is that this practice continues even during the government of a supposedly secular and moderate political party. However, with events like the one that took place in Mianwali, one fails to find the difference between the present regime and that of Zia.

According to the present laws, the administration grants special permission to some eateries to serve food and tea to patients, travellers, etc, during the fast. The above action against alleged Ramzan violators by the local administration of Mianwali raises two questions. First, how did the police establish that the alleged Ramzan violators were not patients or travellers? Second, how would a patient or a traveller know that the eatery serving food and beverages during fasting timings does not have such permission from the administration? Obviously, a customer would presume that such an eatery has permission. He would not demand to see the license first before ordering any eatables. The customer could be an uneducated person who may not even be able to read such a paper issued by the administration to the eatery. Then why were those citizens of Pakistan punished by the authorities?

Before the black year of 1977 — when Zia took over Pakistan — all restaurants here served food and beverages during fasting hours in Ramzan. The only difference was that during Ramzan, the doors and windows of the eateries were covered with thick curtains so that those who were fasting and passing by the restaurant were not tempted by the eating and drinking activities going on inside the eatery.

Since the inception of Pakistan till the government of the PPP before Zia’s coup, the above-mentioned norm remained in practice. After the PPP’s regaining of power in 1988, many draconian laws and practices from Zia’s regime were undone. Unfortunately, however, the ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate.

In any civilised society, it is considered an individual’s prerogative to follow a certain religious practice or not. Many people in the cities of Pakistan live forced bachelor lives away from their native towns. Even living in their home towns, many people have their work places situated far away from their homes. The only source of food and beverage for such people is the eateries. Many from amongst them suffer various medical conditions that force them to eat and drink regularly. For instance, a diabetic person has to eat at regular intervals to maintain his blood sugar level. A kidney patient has to take a lot of liquids to flush his kidneys. A person suffering from low blood pressure can faint without sufficient salt intake. There are so many other instances where the old, sick and weak have to indulge in a normal food and beverage intake to live. Where would such people go if they are not even allowed to drink water outside their homes? Thirst and hunger can be felt at any time whether one is in the concealment of a house or moving out in the open.

If fasting is a religious duty then so is offering prayers. In the ‘model’ police state of Saudi Arabia, clergymen called mutawas go about the streets and market places with sticks in their hands during prayer times and harass and even beat up people to join prayer offerings in the nearby mosque. Why is Pakistan this one step behind Saudi Arabia? If laws here force people to follow one religious duty, why do they not make them follow the other one too?

What is a Taliban mindset? It is to impose one’s religious values on others. The laws of Pakistan overlap with Taliban laws. Let us admit that we are living in a semi-Taliban state, which may become a full Taliban state one day.

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Shehrbano Taseer: Hatred that killed my father hurts all Pakistan

Five months ago, my father Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his security guard Mumtaz Qadri for opposing misuse of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. During the investigation, we were shown a video that made my blood freeze. In a tiny madrassa in Rawalpindi, the chief cleric of a little known Sunni religious group, Shabab-e-Islami, was frothing at the mouth, screeching to 150 swaying men inciting them to kill my father, “the blasphemer”.

Qadri was in the audience, nodding and listening intently. A few days later, on January 4, he casually strolled up behind my father and shot him 27 times. As was reported this week, the blasphemy laws are still being used to persecute Christians, while Qadri, who has still not stood trial, is treated as a hero.

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Pakistan: Taseer’s daughter in UK speaks out against political Islam

by Lizzy Millar

LONDON 20 May 2011 – Qur’an schools in Pakistan are raising a new generation of children to propagate hatred in the wake of bin Laden’s assassination.

Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab region who was assassinated by his bodyguard on 4 January for opposing blasphemy laws, blames Pakistan’s countless madrassas – or Qur’an schools – for using Islam as a ‘political tool’.

Taseer who was speaking at the Quilliam Foundation in London, the first UK-based Muslim think tank dedicated to challenging extremism, is calling on the international community to lobby her government to reform the madrassas and allow greater democracy in Pakistan.

She wants Pakistan to reform the madrassa syllabus so that children are taught viable skills for life and how to value religious freedom and rights.

Taseer, a journalist for Newsweek Pakistan, who describes herself as a civil society activist, has also warned that the death of bin Laden has stirred up extremist sentiment in the already troubled nation.

She said: ‘They are raising children to believe their only contribution to Islam is through jihad. They hail people like Osama bin Laden.’

Taseer said a lack of education coupled with a culture that discouraged any questioning of elders had allowed these radical clerics to spread their ‘poison’.

‘They are becoming more hardline by using Islam as a political tool and this mindset is exported all over the world,’ she added.

Taseer claims her country has been a victim in the war on terrorism after its leaders received direction and funding for schools and mosques from Wahhabis, ultra-conservative dollar-rich Muslims from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

She said this influx had brought with it a rise in the number of radical clerics who had a stronghold on their communities by running Qur’an schools and influencing popular opinion.

Asked by Lapido Media about action taken by Pakistani civil society against so-called hate preachers, she said: ‘Absolutely nothing, as there is an atmosphere of fear. The silent majority feel backed up against the wall.’

She gave the example of Mumtaz Qadri, her father’s killer who was showered with rose petals by a group of two hundred lawyers as he entered the court building. She also mentioned students writing articles that hailed his deeds and criticised her father for speaking up for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother-of-five sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

‘Mumtaz Qadri represents a mindset that is prevalent in Pakistan. Murder is legitimised because it’s done in the name of God.

‘Repressive mindsets have been allowed to flourish. The state has abdicated its responsibility, and hatemongers have been given a platform.

‘My father’s death has highlighted how grave the situation is, but blasphemy cases are still on the rise.’

Taseer paid tribute to the ‘brave men and women’ who were speaking out in Pakistan as well as the silent majority who she said are looking for a more open society.

But she added that their voices would remain fragmented without the backing of central government.

In recent months Pakistan has come under increasing pressure to crack down on extremism in the wake of the assassination of Salman Taseer.

His murder came only a few months before the fatal shooting of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minorities minister and the only Christian member of the cabinet. He too had criticised his country’s blasphemy laws.

In May protests erupted in Pakistan after US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda, who had apparently been hiding in a compound near Islamabad for 10 years.

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They should apologize for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder

The military should apologize for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder

By Shiraz Paracha

Excerpt:

Parrot writers and journalists in Pakistan always praise the position of a serving Army Chief. Those who have sold their souls tell us how great the military’s top brass is. It does not matter if it includes generals, who surrendered in Dhaka, and those who ran away from Kargil, or those who killed an elected Prime Minister and tore apart the constitution. Even military leaders accused of corruption, incompetence and misconduct are portrayed as heroes.

It is not surprising that we are told that the current Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is the only capable saviour of Pakistan. Analysts, anchorpersons and columnists, who pretend to be mouthpieces of the military, inform us that General Kayani is different than his predecessors.

Not very long ago, General Kayani was the right-hand man of General Parvez Musharraff. After Kayani became the Commander-in-Chief, General Musharraff received a guard of honour at the end of his illegal stay in the President House. The military is a state within the state in Pakistan. The sword of a military intervention still hangs over the civilian government as the power equilibrium continues to be in the military’s favour even under General Kayani.

Nonetheless, so far, General Kayani has acted wisely and he appears softer than the previous heads of the Pakistani military. The Armed Forces are supposed to defend a country but the Pakistan military has embarrassed Pakistan many times. The Armed Forces are a symbol of pride for the people of a country; in Pakistan the military has caused national discomfiture. Some Pakistani generals wanted to make history—they left with dark history. ….

…. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Lahore High Court must reverse the decision of Bhutto’s judicial murder and seek an apology from the people of Pakistan. The Supreme Court is guilty of gross injustice. The Bhutto case is a stain on the institution of judiciary. Bhutto’s blood will stay fresh in the courtrooms until justice is done and Bhutto’s dignity is returned to him by the Court. The integrity and respect of the Supreme Court of Pakistan will never be restored without declaring Bhutto innocent and calling him Pakistan’s national hero.

Also the Supreme Court should formally admit that judges who were instrumental in providing legal cover to martial laws and dictators were actually traitors. The Court should give a similar verdict about generals who imposed military coups and derailed Pakistan. …

To read full article : LET US BUILD PAKISTAN

Deathly Silence Prevails in Pakistan

By Gwynne Dyer

While the people of Arab states are overthrowing dictators, Pakistan is sinking deeper into intolerant Islamic extremism. Emboldened by the meek response of the people to the assassinations of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, Islamist vigilantes will now become more brutal.

At least with a dictatorship, you know where you are  and if you know where you are, you may be able to find your way out. In Pakistan, it is not so simple.

While brave Arab protesters are overthrowing deeply entrenched autocratic regimes, often without even resorting to violence, Pakistan, a democratic country, is sinking into a sea of violence, intolerance and extremism. The world’s second-biggest Muslim country (185 million people) has effectively been silenced by ruthless Islamist fanatics who murder anyone who dares to defy them. What the fanatics want, of course, is power …

Read more : Scribd

Dedicated to Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti

The legislator, MNA, Asiya Nasir, elected on a reserved women’s seat from Balochistan, the only minority female legislator in the Federal Assembly and speaking the day after the murder Shahbaz Bhatti. She holds a Masters in English literature from the Government Girls College, Quetta and a certificate in Teachers’ Training and is a member of the NGO Aurat Foundation. She has been a member of the House since 2002 when she was elected on a reserved seat for minorities.

MNA, Asiya Nasir protesting in the Federal Assembly against the brutal assassination of federal minister “Shahbaz Bhatti”. She is speaking harsh but truth. No one is a superior creature than other human beings. God, Allah, Jesus, Bhagwan, what ever has created human all are alike without any discrimination. If any one believes in God, he should respect and treat every human equally.

Pakistani Christians didn’t come from outside, they always lived here… Christianity came… Just like Islam came… in the same way Hindus were always here and Sikhs started their religion in 17-18th century.

Basically she is saying Pakistan is sinking!!! She was condemning the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, the minorities minister who has been assassinated by terrorists in Pakistan. She said her daughter even wants to leave this country but she has told her that this is our motherland, and they will always remain here no matter what. She is sickened by terrorism in Pakistan. …

- You Tube

Punjabi Taliban – Dawn Editorial

IT is difficult to say who is guilty of hurting the Punjabi sensibility and compromising Punjab`s security more. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has warned Interior Minister Rehman Malik against using the term `Punjabi Taliban`. The federal minister initially gave the impression that he was ready to take on Mr Sharif over the issue, going so far as to declare he was not a subordinate of the chief minister. But then he capitulated in the manner his party, the PPP, seems to have perfected. Mr Malik has promised Mr Sharif an explanation; however, others may not share the interior minister`s compulsion and would be more tempted to raise the critical question of what is so irritating about the term `Punjabi Taliban` that has made the chief minister livid. His angry response — time and again — to the `Punjabi` tagging of terrorists betrays a lack of understanding that does not quite suit the head of a provincial government. There is no insinuation that the Taliban enjoy the active support of the entire population of a province. It is only Mr Sharif`s interpretation that appears to give that sinister, all-encompassing meaning to a term a set of terrorists — many of whom have received training in Waziristan — have boasted of in recent times.

Rather than taking it as an attack meant to be countered forcefully, the mention of the Punjabi Taliban should lead to a bit of searching of the soul and territory at Mr Sharif`s command. There have been far too many allegations for him to continue to ignore the issue. The pamphlet left at the site of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti`s murder in Islamabad recently had the Taliban from Punjab claiming responsibility for the dastardly act.

If this is not the right time and the right sign for Punjab to act, there never will be. A lack of action on the part of the provincial government will only add to the impression that it, or some of its members, had a soft corner for terrorists on a killing spree. ….

Read more : DAWNWichaar

After Salman, Shahbaz silenced in the “sacred” state! Who’s next?

by Waseem Altaf

In less than two months time a sitting Governor of the largest province and the only Christian minister in the federal cabinet, both from the ruling party, have been gunned down in broad daylight, in the most secure city of this country. So who remains safe in the holy land? The simple answer is nobody. …

Read more : ViewPoint

This is not a PPP of Bhuttos, this is a Majlis Shura group of Zia

The language of the program is urdu/ Hindi.

Courtesy: Aaj TV (Bolta Pakistan with Nusrat Javed & Mushtaq Minhas, 2nd March 2011, part 2)

via – SisasatYou Tube

Salute to this Martyr of Humanity Murdered by the Dark forces of Theocracy

- Pakistan minister Bhatti predicts own assassination

BBC News has received a video of the murdered Pakistani minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, in which he talks about his own assassination.

Mr Bhatti, a Christian, who was shot dead in the capital, Islamabad, had been calling for the abolishment of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

To watch the video : BBC

Blasphemy Law: the Shape of Things to Come

To the article below, one can now add this unhappy piece of news:

The decision of a lower court to award the death penalty to a poor Christian woman accused of blasphemy has ignited a wide debate over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Liberals have asked that the Zia-era blasphemy law should be repealed or amended because it has become an instrument of oppression and injustice in the hands of mobs and gangsters (over 4000 prosecutions in 25 years with several gruesome extra-judicial executions). …

Read more : 3QuarksDaily

Yeh Ghazi yeh terey purasraar bandey!?!? another hit?

- Pakistan Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti shot dead

Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has been shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car in broad daylight in the capital, Islamabad.

He was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets, police said.

Mr Bhatti, the cabinet’s only Christian minister, had received death threats for urging reform to blasphemy laws.

In January, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.

The blasphemy law carries a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths. …

Read more : BBC

Sindh calls for separation of mosque and state

Call for separation of religion from state

SINDH – HYDERABAD, Feb 20: Leaders of nationalist and left-wing parties and prominent poets and writers have called for concrete efforts to curb fundamentalism and demanded separation of religion from state and equal rights for minorities.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Religious extremism and black laws of Zia’s regime’ organised by the “Left Unity” at the press club here on Sunday, they stressed the need for a united front comprising all secular, nationalist and progressive forces for combating fundamentalism and promoting secularism.

Renowned intellectual Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo said that after independence the Quaid-i-Azam had unequivocally declared that religion would be the personal concern of the individual and every citizen of Pakistan would have equal rights. But successive governments in the country violated this principle.

Mr Joyo called upon the working class and oppressed people to unite to protect their rights.

He said Sindhis, Balochs and Pakhtuns were oppressed nations. He said that not only “black laws of the Zia regime” but all discriminatory laws should be repealed.

Left Unity secretary Buxal Thallo said that religious extremism was a threat for the country’s progress and called upon all political parties to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism. …

Read more : DAWN

The battle over blasphemy – Riz Khan

Has Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law become a political tool in the hands of religious conservatives?

We will be discussing Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law with journalist Shehrbano Taseer whose father – Punjab governor Salman Taseer – was killed for speaking out against it.

The killing ignited a debate in Pakistan with many critics calling for the law to be amended or scrapped, saying it was being used to victimise liberal politicians and religious minorities.

But extremist groups have celebrated Taseer’s killer, calling him a hero who is defending Islam.

So has the blasphemy law become a political tool and should it have a place in today’s Pakistan?

Also joining the discussion will be Asma Jahangir, a well-known human rights activist, and Amjad Waheed, an Islamic scholar.

Read more : ALJAZEERA

The myopia continues – Cyril Almeida

Excerpt:

…..  Well, no less a person than the American president has weighed in on what he thinks ought to be the fate of a piddling employee/contractor of the American government.

Whatever spurred those comments — he was asked a question rather than made a prepared statement — you can be sure the weight and might of the American state machinery will press very, very hard to ensure their president isn’t embarrassed by the self-righteous defiance of some judges and a few politicians in a country surviving on American handouts.

The Americans want their guy back and, by golly, they seem bent on getting their way. Which leaves our response.

By now the cat is out of the bag. When the interior minister, the ex-foreign minister and the all-powerful spy chief met to decide the fate of Raymond Davis, two of those gents were of the opinion that Davis doesn’t enjoy ‘full immunity’.

One of those two has now been fired by Zardari. The other, well, if Zardari tried to fire him, the president might find himself out of a job first.

Which leaves the obvious question: once the government had, surprise, surprise, screwed up, what did the self-appointed custodians of the national interest make of the situation?

Forget all that mishegoss about Vienna conventions and legal minutiae and the like. In its dealings with the US over the past decade, the security establishment’s concern for the letter of the law has been, at best, patchy.

Tongues are wagging in Islamabad that the calculus would have been far simpler: through a stroke of luck, the Pakistani state now has something the Americans desperately want back — Raymond Davis — so what will the Americans be willing to give in return?

The Davis incident has come at a time when by all accounts relations between the US and Pakistan were growing more tense, and worse was expected in the months ahead. All manner of American pressure was expected to be put on Pakistan to further US counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency goals in this country and across the border in Afghanistan.

Some believe the contours of the security establishment’s response had become visible in recent months: discreetly and indirectly encourage anti-American sentiment in the country as a bulwark against American pressure. If/when the Americans leaned too heavily on the security establishment here, the generals would be able to turn around and say, we can’t do what you want, the people won’t let us.

But long after Raymond Davis is back home in the US, hawking his talents in the lucrative private sector there, we here in Pakistan will still be stuck with the fallout.

The security establishment seems to view extremist sentiment like a faucet: turn it off, turn it on, leave it half open, depending on the need of the hour. But in the real world it doesn’t quite work like that.

Once released into society, the poison lingers on, its pernicious effects revealed years and maybe even decades later. Kind of what Pakistan looks like today, 30 years since Zia tried to Islamise this unfortunate land and her luckless people.

The recent evidence is just as harrowing. Hafiz Saeed was trotted out in support of the blasphemy laws, and everyone knows what that fire ended up consuming. Now the right-wing is up in arms again, demanding the head of Raymond Davis, arguing for a swap with Aafia Siddiqui, crying out for the lives of Pakistanis to be treated at par with American lives — with the security establishment passively looking on, possibly counting the benefits.

Who knows, the arrogant Americans may or may not get their way on Raymond Davis. The security establishment may or may not be able to wrest some compromises from the US in return for facilitating the release of Davis.

But Pakistani society will be uglier, more intolerant and a little more vicious as a result — and that surely cannot be worth whatever the short-term tactical advantage which may or may not be gained.

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan’s Higher Court Confirms There Are Two Laws : one for the powerful, other for the weak?

Supreme Court decision to give a rare second extension to Justice Khalil Ramday and appoint Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafferi as an ad hoc judge confirms that there are two laws in the country: one for the powerful, other for the weak; one for the rich, other for the poor; one for the Supreme Court, other for the rest of the country!

Please note that the Supreme Court has been hearing and deciding the fate of many government officials who have been given extensions or have been re-employed after their retirement. How will the court hear such cases anymore?  What will be its credibility in other cases?

Courtesy: Aaj News TV (Aaj Ki Khabar – 15th February 2011)

via – ZemTVYou Tube Link

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains (2 JI) – Wichaar Analysis

The prime mover of TNR is Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. JI is another case of fake contender of ideology of Pakistan. The party opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail and issued fatwas against Mohammad Ali Jinnah. By the way it got foothold in Punjab courtesy of Allama Mohammad Iqbal. A landlord Chauhdry Barkat Ali had asked Allama Iqbal to recommend a suitable Islamic organization who can take his estate in Pathankot. Allama Iqbal recommended Maulana Maudodi and this is how JI expanded its base in Punjab. This one of the reason that I feel that JI cadres and Taliban are Iqbal’s ‘Shaheens.’

Presently, JI is competing for influence for itself but that is its secondary goal versus Fazalur Rehman whose main goal is political power. For JI, TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. Taliban and other jihadi groups very well fit in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns JI provides a political cover to them. …

Read more : Wichaar

Aasia Bibi Case

- Muslim councillor receives death threats over blasphemy case

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Raza Anjum travelled to Pakistan in December and spent three weeks meeting political leaders urging them to release Asia Bibi, a mother-of-five found guilty of defaming the Prophet Mohammed, a conviction that human rights campaigners say is unsafe.

In one threatening phone call, which he has reported to police, he was told to “stop supporting Christians or he would be made a terrible example out of”. …

Read more : The Telegraph

Pakistan: Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

- Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling. It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling. – – Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial. …

Read more : Human Rights Watch

 

In Punjab most of the poeple are religious hard liners

For moderate majority, a hard line

By Karin Brulliard

IN LAHORE, PAKISTAN Following the assassination of a liberal politician who criticized federal blasphemy laws, loud support for the confessed killer is coming from an unlikely quarter: a violence-eschewing, anti-Taliban school of Islam steeped in Sufism.

While many factions have lauded the slaying, the peace-promoting Barelvi sect has spearheaded mass rallies to demand the release of the assassin, a policeman. Because most Pakistanis are Barelvis, their stance is challenging the belief long held among liberals here – and hoped for by nervous U.S. officials – that the Muslim majority in this nuclear-armed nation is more moderate than militant. …

Read more : The Washington Post

Pakistan radicals rule the streets

by Amanda Hodge

TENS of thousands of people crowded the streets of Lahore late on Sunday demanding freedom for the assassin of Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

The protestors are also demanding death for the US consular official who killed two suspected armed robbers in self-defence.

Demonstrators from religious parties Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and the banned terrorist-linked charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa held banners in support of Mumtaz Qadri — the police guard who killed Taseer last month because the governor had supported changes to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.

Opposition party leaders from more mainstream parties also lined up to assure the protesters they would never support changes to the blasphemy law and would quit the National Assembly should the government attempt to amend them.

Protesters chanted slogans such as “Free Mumtaz Qadri” while demanding the harshest penalty for Raymond Davis, a US consular official who was arrested for double murder on Friday after shooting two armed motorcyclists he feared were about to rob him.

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“We warn the government and administration that . . . if they help the arrested American illegally, then this crowd will surround the US embassy and presidential palace in Islamabad,” one official from the Jamiat Ulema Islam party said.

The US has demanded Mr Davis’s release, claiming he has diplomatic immunity, but the Pakistani government says the courts should decide his fate.

In another corner of the Punjab’s once feted cultural capital, 500 people attended a peace rally and remembrance vigil for the slain governor.

Among them was liberal commentator Raza Rumi, who conceded yesterday: “It’s not a good time to be a liberal in Pakistan.

“Forget liberal — it’s not a good time to be a moderate.”

Analysts say the fact that among the speakers at the larger rally was JUD founder Hafiz Saeed, believed to have also founded terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, says much about the complicity of state forces in Pakistan’s extremist groundswell.

But just as telling was who was sharing the podium.

Members of Imran Khan’s so-called moderate Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party also spoke in support of the blasphemy laws.

“All the major political parties from the Right and the centre were there, which shows the Right is capturing more and more political space,” says Rumi. …

Read more : The Australian

Blame game

by Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Samaa TV program anchor Meher Bokhari, whose aggressive interview of Taseer a few weeks prior to his assassination has raised troubling questions about media responsibility. Did her insistence, that Governor Taseer had somehow engaged in defamation of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) by simply calling the blasphemy law a man-made law and as such, amendable, seem an appropriate line of questioning? …

Read more : View Point

 

Jamat-e-Islami & American Funding through USAID.

Jamat-e-Islami/MMA & American Funding through USAID.

Read more : ChagataiKhan

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The language of program is urdu/ Hindi.

Courtesy: Dunya TV News (Khari Baat Lucman Ke Saath-24-01-2011-Pt1)

via – ChagataiKhanYou Tube Link

Extremist Intimidation Chills Pakistan Secular Society

by Julie McCarthy

In Pakistan, a battle has been joined by those who want a tolerant Islamic state against those who want a fundamentalist religious regime.

The killing in Pakistan earlier this month of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer has cheered the religious right while chilling secular Pakistanis and exposing deep fissures in the society.

The governor was gunned down in Islamabad by a bodyguard angered at his bid to relax the country’s blasphemy laws. The assassination of Taseer, an audacious advocate for modernism, revealed the conservative attitudes about Islam that are sweeping through Pakistan. …

Read more : NPR

PAKISTAN’S BARBARIC LAW OF BLASPHEMY

By Dr. Shabbir Ahmed

Dictionaries define blasphemy as: In simple terms it means insulting someone or something considered sacred or inviolable by a community or group of people.

These days, Pakistan is gripped by the hysteria of blasphemy, particularly about insulting the exalted Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) or the Holy Qur’an. This situation is fast creating a national divide which spreads hatred against each other based upon what they believe and others believe. Every sect then considers itself right and all others wrong. The divergent beliefs thrust them to a massive enmity to the extent of absolute intolerance. The fanatics among the religious people have no hesitation in killing their opponents. Pakistan could possibly be heading towards a civil war. …

Courtesy: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=3995

Blasphemy, theirs and ours

by Adnan Farooq

In last ten years, beards have desecrated— in the literal and violent sense— 53 places considered holy by believers of different faith in Pakistan. They have bombed and raided mosques, churches, holy processions, seminaries, shrines, Imambargahs, missionary schools even hospitals. These acts of confessional desecration have claimed 1152 lives and maimed another 2780 innocent people, mostly co-religionists. Not a single incident has provoked any mullah, Media Mujahid or any media house to cry blasphemy. A committed Karachi-based activist and a fellow Viewpoint contributor, Muhammad Nafees, keeps compiling scary figures in his bid to wake a self-indulgent Pakistan up. The mainstream media almost never take note of his efforts. Undeterred, he keeps e-mailing his findings on e-mail lists. Look at the terrifying data, illustrating the breadth and depth of violent puritan blasphemies, he has dispatched:

Read more : ViewPoint

Liberals are losing ground in Pakistan

“They’re armed, we’re not. They’ve nothing to lose. They fight for their faith with bullets. We’re not ready to die.”Rehana Hakim, Editor, Newsline

“The liberal-minded people are thinking of leaving the country. The liberal space will shrink even further.”Ayesha Siddiqa

“Should I remain silent or stand up to be counted? I’m struggling to take a decision.”Moneeza Hashmi, Broadcaster

The Flickering Flame

. Pakistan’s liberals are fleeing the country in fear or being forced into silence.

- Mariana Baabar

When Omer announced he had completed his master’s degree from a university in London and wished to return home to Karachi, his father Rahim Khan, a senior government official, should have marvelled at his luck. After all, only a minuscule percentage of boys from the subcontinent ever return to their country from studies abroad. Contrary to expectations, Rahim was dismayed, promptly advising his only son to enrol for another course or grab a job, to do anything he could to extend his visa there. Rahim explained his decision to Outlook, “He will have no future in a city where you can’t be sure of returning home alive in the evening.”

It isn’t just those from the rich, western-educated class who have made it their habit to take a flight out of Pakistan, often for good. Months ago, Allama Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, a leading religious scholar, decided to make Dubai his home, so weary was he of the repeated threats from the obscurantists livid at his moderate interpretation of Islam. Marred by continuing ethnic strife, the once-liberal city of Karachi has also undergone rampant Talibanisation, goading the rich to make a beeline for safer climes abroad. This exodus prompted columnist Kamran Shafi to recently write about the “darkened homes in Karachi where the inmates have flown to alternative ‘nests’ in Canada, England and Malaysia”.

For long, Pakistan has seen its people migrate for reasons as varied as better economic prospects to hopes of escaping political discrimination and the state’s inability to provide protection from murderous gangs scouring the land with impunity. Whoever from the minority groups of Hindus and Christians can leave the country, does so at the first opportunity. Joining them in droves in recent times have been those from the Ahmedia sect, which is deemed non-Muslim under law. A significant percentage of the exodus comprises businessmen, often the target of kidnapping and extortion. Pakistanis have always asked themselves: should we leave the country or stay behind?

This question has again become a subject of fervent debate from the time Punjab governor Salman Taseer was gunned down and the shocking feting of his assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who was outraged by his victim’s support for amending the blasphemy law. For someone to be killed for an opinion, an idea, has jolted Pakistanis into reflecting over their journey backward—from liberating progressivism to stifling conservatism. Recalls journalist Adnan Rehmat, “In the ’60s and ’70s, you could even eat at restaurants during Ramadan and see women in saris and bell-bottoms in the bazaars. Burqas and beards were a rare sight.” …

Read more : OUT LOOK

Muslim clerics distort Quranic verses to suit their purpose

See how Muslim clerics omit verses and parts of verses of Holy Quran, Surah Ahzaab (chapter 33) to falsely accuse Quran that Death Sentence for blasphemy is a Quranic Commandment. This is how they misguide the people that Quran prescribes punishment of death for blasphemy.

- You Tube Link