More lethal than RAW

BY PERVEZ HOODBHOY

Our generals say India’s spy agency RAW is up to its nasty tricks again. No evidence provided but, okay, we’ll buy the story for now. There are two good reasons. First, it’s safer not to question the wisdom of generals. Second, they speak from deep experience, having long played the spy-versus-spy game across borders.

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India will clock 7.5 per cent growth in 2015-16, overtake China: IMF

Washington: India will overtake China as the fastest growing emerging economy in 2015-16 by clocking a growth rate of 7.5 per cent on the back of recent policy initiatives, pick-up in investments and lower oil prices, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday.

“India’s growth is expected to strengthen from 7.2 per cent in 2014 to 7.5 per cent in 2015. Growth will benefit from recent policy reforms, a consequent pick-up in investment, and lower oil prices,” the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook.

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Sharif’s Growth Push Spurs Pakistan’s Biggest IPO in 8 Years

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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s push to build power plants, roads and rail links is prompting a local steelmaker to expand by selling shares in the nation’s biggest initial public offering in eight years.

Amreli Steels Ltd., the South Asian country’s biggest maker of steel bars used in construction, plans to raise as much as 4 billion rupees ($39 million) next month from the sale of 70 million new shares. The proceeds will help more than double its capacity to 450,000 tons from 200,000 tons, Amreli’s director Hadi Akberali said in an interview.

Continue reading Sharif’s Growth Push Spurs Pakistan’s Biggest IPO in 8 Years

How One Pakistani Town Mastered Religious Tolerance

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Pakistan has become synonymous with terrorism. On most local and international news channels, we hear about minorities getting slaughtered at the hands of extremists; attacks on temples, churches, imambargahs; or the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians in the country.

I reckon you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a small town in Tharparkar, a district of the Sindh province where none of this is happening.

Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. In this quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have lived together like brothers since the creation of Pakistan.

In November 2014, when I was selected for a three-week fellowship program in the United States, I met a gentleman from Sindh who was also among my batch. He introduced himself like this:

“I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us.”

I was dumbstruck at the idea of a Hindu fasting in Ramazan or leading a Muharram procession. Was this actually true?

Then, in February this year, I happened to travel to Tharparkar with friends to view the drought-affected areas and launch some projects to overcome the disaster that hits every year. After a 20-hour arduous road and rail journey, I finally reached the quaint little town of Mithi, and here I experienced what I had never expected to see in a Pakistani town.

Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.

Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two percent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance.

Continue reading How One Pakistani Town Mastered Religious Tolerance

RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE – Fifty kilometres from Delhi, hundreds of Muslims have become refugees overnight

A mob of 300 Jat men rampaged through a village in Ballabhgarh this week, attacking Muslims. The reason: they don’t want a mosque in the village.

The normality of the evening was deceptive. A little before 6 pm on May 25, most residents of Atali village in Ballabhgarh, in Haryana’s Faridabad district, were out tending to their cattle. A few were in their homes cooking dinner. Zahida Parveen had just settled down on the second storey of her home in preparation for the asar ki namaz. Suddenly, there was a loud noise.
“I looked out and saw 14-15 men enter the gate of the house armed with bricks, sticks and swords,” said Parveen, a slender woman in her early 20s. “I heard them break the door to the ground floor of our house.” She bolted the door to the second floor and hid in a room. The sounds of destruction continued drifting from below, glass being smashed and things being hurled around. She could hear the men rush up to where she was. “They were breaking down the door,” Parveen said. “I hid inside the bathroom. They entered my room, shouting ‘Let these people die in the fire, if not at our hands.’”Parveen doesn’t remember how long she stayed hidden while mayhem played out on the other side of the bathroom door. The men smashed a washbasin, overturned furniture and set fire to three cars downstairs before eventually walking away. Parveen and her relatives escaped from the roof when, after what seemed like hours, the police arrived.

Three days on, Parveen and her family were still living in fear at the Ballabgarh police station along with 200 other Muslims from Atali.

Refugees in their town

At the police station, the Muslim men sat in groups on a lawn at the entrance, in the blazing heat. Further inside, about a hundred women sat on a rug spread on the asphalt, with a thin cloth tent sheltering them from the sun. Children, many in the school uniforms they were wearing three days ago, huddled around the women. In one corner, there were stacks of bananas and plastic pouches of drinking water provided by social activists.