G.M Syed: The Messenger of Universal Love

By: Jagdeesh Ahuja

Humanism will ultimately prevail. Man is still restless and shall remain so unless he has attained peace. Man’s material and spiritual development is not possible without creating a spirit of universal peace and tolerance.” Thus spake G.M Syed. Though widely known as father of modern Sindhi nationalism, in deep heart, he is a great universal lover and freedom fighter. Being one of the most controversial figures of Pakistan, he is misunderstood by many, hated by a few and loved by great many lovers of Sindh. If one wants to have some acquaintance with the soul of Syed, one has to go through his book ‘The abode of heart and story of love.’ (Dayar-e-Dil, Dastaan-e- mohabat).

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Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Pakistan after the American withdrawal

By Khaled Ahmed

Most observers are worried about Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-Nato forces from there in 2013-2014. It should be interesting to see what would happen to Pakistan once the Americans are gone.

Islamabad’s Jinnah Institute in its briefing (July 25, 2011) spelled out Pakistan’s ‘objectives’ in relation to post-withdrawal Afghanistan. The most outstanding point made in the report pertained to India: “Pakistani foreign policy elite accept that India has a role to play in Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction … but Pakistani security establishment [thinks] a reluctance to address Pakistani misgivings increases the likelihood of a growing Indian footprint, and in turn, New Delhi’s greater ability to manipulate the endgame negotiations and the post-settlement dispensation in Kabul”.

Will India get out of Afghanistan after the American withdrawal? From a statement by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (“we will support the Afghan people”), it appears that it plans to retain its presence in Afghanistan.

The most likely post-withdrawal scenario is that there will be a civil war in Afghanistan. A parallel war will take place between the Afghan National Army and the non-state actors from Pakistan. The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has told Congress he thought a future 230,000-strong Afghan force, scaled down from a planned 352,000, was enough after 2017. That will historically be the largest army Afghanistan will ever have.

Continue reading Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Minorities in Pakistan disturbed over forced conversions

Lahore: Minorities in Pakistan are disturbed over forced conversions and have taken strong exception to the justice system becoming ”an instrument of injustice” in their case, leaders of minority communities have said.

The leaders expressed serious reservations over the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of three Hindu women who were allegedly forced to convert and marry Muslims.

Earlier this week, a bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the women should decide their future, following which they chose to go with their husbands.

Emmanuel Yousaf and Peter Jacob, representatives of the Catholic National Commission for Justice and Peace, underlined the need for a comprehensive review of the issue of forced conversions and a firm stand by the government to uphold justice and human rights.

Referring to the cases of Rinkle Kumari, Asha Kumari and Lata Kumari, who were allegedly forced to convert, Yousaf and Jacob said the apex court’s procedures had become an “instrument of injustice” as the principle of free consent was applied loosely or selectively and in disregard to social realities.

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Forced faith or force of faith?

By: Waris Husain

Excerpt;

…… When the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court was released, a commentator on twitter noted that Rinkle Kumari, one of the three females in the case, was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Neither the commentator nor I have the credentials to administer a psychological diagnosis to Ms. Kumari, now known as Faryal Bibi. However, let us think of the hundreds of other cases that have existed throughout Pakistan’s history where Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians were converted against their will.

Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a condition where an individual is abducted or kidnapped, and begins to empathise with their captor to the point that they defend their actions. In evolutionary psychology, theories have been developed that explain the evolutionary benefit of the Syndrome. When humans lived in hunter gatherer societies, clans of men would continually fight one another, and women would be taken as “victory prizes.” The women who protested their capture were regularly killed, while the ones who adjusted to life with their brutal captors survived.

Therefore, one should examine the case of religious minorities in Pakistan from this brutal, archaic, and outdated perspective. Potential converts are born into a society that subjects them to massive social and institutional discrimination, for public services and employment. Non-Muslims have been subject to murder, rape, or beatings merely for simply being born to a different religion in a nation where the right to spread Islam is more protected than the right of minorities to live in peace. In this environment, when a woman, child, or minority is converted to Islam, they could likely develop Stockholm Syndrome and embrace their new faith as an instinct to survive in a brutal society.

This raises a question that should be asked to the ‘gairatmand.’ Is the benefit of forcibly converting one individual to Islam worth jeopardising the validity of all the converts to their faith? Many say that the justice system is flawed if it mistakenly punishes one man, even when it rightfully punishes thousands. In that light, does the forced conversion of one soul not call into question the thousands of others that may have converted voluntarily?

There should be no societal benefit for belonging to the majority religion, just as there should be no detriment for being a minority. Therefore, one hopes that Parliament can address the societal discrimination at the heart of this issue by passing appropriate legislation. This legislation could thereafter be utilised and enforced through the Court. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the right to religion as fundamental, and despite contradictory laws that discriminate against minorities, a legislation is required to fairly deal with forcible conversions.

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