One Woman’s Jihad

by Yoginder Sikand

Excerpt:

Zehra Cyclewala is a leading figure in the reformist movement against the tyranny of Syedna Burhanuddin, the head-priest (dai-e mutlaq) of the Daudi Bohra Ismaili Shia sect. Here, in a conversation with Yoginder Sikand, she relates the story of her decades-long personal struggle against priestly tyranny.

The Syedna turns 100 this month, and massive celebrations are being organized by his followers across the world to project him as a popular and pious leader. Zehra’s life tells a different story, however.

My name is Zehra Cyclewala. I am 55 years old, and have lived in Surat for most of my life. I was born in an orthodox, lower middle-class Dawoodi Bohra family. My parents had five children, and I was the youngest child. In the mid-1980s, soon after I completed my education—I did my graduation in Commerce—I joined the Saif Cooperative Society in Surat, a bank established in the 1960s by a group of Bohra traders. It was inaugurated by the Bohra head priest Syedna Burhanuddin himself, and enjoyed his blessings. I started work there as a clerk, and, gradually, rose to become its manager.

From the very beginning, the Saif Cooperative Society gave and took interest. The Syedna naturally knew of this, and he had no problem with it, although some Muslims believe that even bank interest is forbidden or haraam in Islam. However, two years after I joined the bank, the Syedna issued a fatwa claiming that bank interest was forbidden, and demanded that the Bohras working in our bank leave their jobs at once. All the staff of the bank was Bohras at that time. Because the Bohras believe the word of the Syedna to be almost like divinely-inspired law, they hurriedly complied with his order and quit their jobs. I was the only one to refuse. After all, I thought, when, from the time the bank was established till the Syedna had issued this fatwa, the bank had been giving and taking interest, and the Syedna knew about this all along, how come he had suddenly decided or realized that such interest was haraam? The Syedna himself had inaugurated the bank, and when he did so he had no problem with it dealing in interest. There was something fishy in this fatwa, I felt.

Despite enormous pressure to leave the job, I refused. I lived with my mother, Fuliben Taherali, in Surat, and was the sole source of her support, because my father had died when I was 20. I simply could not do without this job. So, despite the Syedna’s order, I stuck on. The District Cooperative Society Board appointed a non-Bohra administrator—a man called Mr. Daru—to run the bank, and I worked under him. My defiance of the Syedna’s orders was not liked by the Bohras of Surat, and soon complaints about me reached the Syedna’s religious establishment—the Kothar. …

I appeal to the Government, political parties, intellectuals and social activists, and to people in general to see through this charade of the Syedna and his cronies, who have been twisting Islam in order to promote their own interests. I ask them to stop supporting and patronizing these men. …

Read more : Wichaar

Instead of becoming angry on the role of establishment and its agencies, Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami & the rightious TV anchors are getting furious on the poor politicians!?

Judiciary, Establishment and its pawns in the media

by Yousuf Nazar

It was not surprising that the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court did not even entertain an application against the release of Raymond Davis. If it was Sherry Rehman who had been acquitted from some trumped up charges, I wonder they would have taken suo moto action suspending the acquittal decision.

The ISI-CIA’s deal should highlight one thing to our TV channels and their anchors. The establishment and the ISI work very closely with America, more closely than the PPP government. And the judiciary works very closely with the establishment. If you are someone like Salmaan Tasser, who is not liked by the establishment, you risk losing your life and Islamic law would be cited in favor of the killer. But if one is really a CIA agent, “true Islamic law” is observed and he is released after paying money from a slush fund.

Would all TV anchors concede that all their anger at either the government or Americans misses the biggest link; the security establishment which has been and continues to be the biggest protector of American interests in Pakistan. If they have some ‘ghairat’ and true courage, they should interview Gen. K~~~i and Gen, Pa~~~a and ask questions about the nature and the extent of CIA’s operations in Pakistan and billions of dollars of arms purchases, their rationale, and their purchase mechanism, and commissions paid and received. These ‘super patriots’ should also be asked if they don’t want drone attacks, why don’t they shoot them down? But can they do that with the F-16s bought from their masters in Washington? It is about time we face the most bitter fact: the security establishment cannot protect national interests because it has compromised them by its old and huge dependence on American money and arms. Would people like Kamran Khan, Talat Hussain, Kashif Abbasi, Shahid Masood, and the rest of their colleagues ever muster the courage and acknowledge that or would continue to mislead the people of Pakistan?

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, Mar 18, 2011

Indian PEACE delegation in Hyderabad & HOLI

Hyderabad – Sindh: A high profile PEACE delegation of Indian parliamentarians, writers, journalists, columnists, think tanks, peace and human rights activists are visiting Sindh from 17th-20th march 2011. Delegates are lead by renowned South Asian intellectual Kuldip Nair. In Hyderabad and Karachi they will attend various public gatherings, press briefings, civil society receptions, formal lunches and dinners by Pakistan based federal and nationalist political parties, parliamentarians and other groups.

Today delegates are coming to Hyderabad and will participate in the following events. Schedule of Indian delegation in Hyderabad On 19th march, 2011. HOLI celebration with Hyderabad HINDU Panchayat (community) members at the residence of Secretary Pakistan Peace coalition, PPC, Meet the Press @ Hyderabad Press Club, Dialogue with youth and civil society at SPO house and grand reception.

Release of Raymond Davis: Ghairat Brigade Activated Against the democratic System

Release of Raymond Davis: Ghairat Brigade Activated Against the System. US Revives Ties with Pakistan. Government Retreating to its Shell?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Excerpt:

” … the ‘ghairat (honor) brigade’ is activated to grab the advantage and cash in the public anger against the democratic system in the country and some sections of the traditional anti democracy elements in the agencies are said to be providing behind the scene support to keep pressure on the federal and the provincial governments and the United States.” ….

Read more : Indus Herald

Circus called talk shows

by Mazhar Arif

News reports indicate arrest of Raymond Davis provided an opportunity to the ISI to renegotiate its ‘terms of engagement’ with the CIA. But, ‘independent’ TV channels and Jamaat-e-Islami groomed anchor persons were furious over the elected governments, both federal and provincial, for ‘handing over’ Raymond Davis to Washington …

Read more : View Point

Pakistani Judiciary

by Dr. Azhar A. Shah

The case of Raymond Davis has once again unmasked the real faces of Pakistan ’s ruthless uncontrolled intelligence agencies and their chronic allies (Saudi-cum-CIA). This case reveals how the judiciary along with exploitative religious interpretation of sacred scriptures is being used as a tool to continue their illegitimate hold on the corridors of power. They used this tool to get an elected PM of the country executed on the allegation that he authorized the murder of a person and now they used exactly the same tool to get ‘Davis’ freed who publicly took over the lives of many people of country.

Let us now conduct an honest review and see how many Pakistanis have been murdered (authorized for murder) by Pakistani intelligence agencies since the inception of Pakistan? Except from the murder of individual political leaders/ activist the responsibility of all mass murder/ violence in Pakistan goes to these agencies. The agencies whose performance is considered by the court to be too mean to be reported publicly (Govt papers on FIA chief a joke: SC ). A glimpse of some significant achievements of the agencies could be obtained from Thematic Chronology of Mass Violence in Pakistan , 1947-2007 (http://www.massviolence.org/Thematic-Chronology-of-Mass-Violence-in-Pakistan-1947-2007 ).

Now that the truth has become clear, the agencies must get reshaped!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 19 March 2011.