Tag Archives: Education

CPPC on Quebec Students Movement – We stand in solidarity with the students in Québec!

The Québec Student Strike – Why we support it and why we condemn Bill 78

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) believes the right to an education is one all citizens of the world must have access to. Moreover, that access should be without financial cost. Only by having an educated population can a country truly be free.

Continue reading CPPC on Quebec Students Movement – We stand in solidarity with the students in Québec!

Cuba – A Regime’s Tight Grip on AIDS

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

HAVANA — Yudelsy García O’Connor, the first baby known to have been born with H.I.V. in Cuba, is not merely still alive. She is vibrant, funny and, at age 25, recently divorced but hoping to remarry and have children.

Her father died of AIDS when she was 10, her mother when she was 23. She was near death herself in her youth.

“I’m not afraid of death,” she said. “I know it could knock on my door. It comes for everyone. But I take my medicine.”

Ms. García is alive thanks partly to lucky genes, and partly to the intensity with which Cuba has attacked its AIDS epidemic. Whatever debate may linger about the government’s harsh early tactics — until 1993, everyone who tested positive for H.I.V. was forced into quarantine — there is no question that they succeeded.

Cuba now has one of the world’s smallest epidemics, a mere 14,038 cases. Its infection rate is 0.1 percent, on par with Finland, Singapore and Kazakhstan. That is one-sixth the rate of the United States, one-twentieth of nearby Haiti.

Continue reading Cuba – A Regime’s Tight Grip on AIDS

India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar

In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.

Both countries mean business

In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:

  • Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
  • India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
  • Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
  • The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
  • A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.

Opportunities and gains

Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.

Continue reading India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

Indo-Pak Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

The Aman ki Asha Education Committee met in New Delhi last Thursday to decide on ways in which India and Pakistan can collaborate to bring about reforms in education on both sides of the border. The Indo-Pak Education/Skills Development Committee is one of the six committees formed after the Aman ki Asha Business Meet in May 2010, to take forward cooperation in the areas that delegates had identified as having the greatest potential for cooperation – Education/Skills Development, Textiles, Information Technology (IT), Agriculture, Energy and Healthcare.At a day-long meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), The Times of India, the Jang Group, and Pakistan India CEOs Business Forum at India Habitat Centre, luminaries from both countries shared problems and achievements in their education sectors followed by some brainstorming for effective solutions. ….

Read more » Aman Ki Asha

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

By Mohammad Hamid, KUNDUZ, Afghanistan

(Reuters) – About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department. ….

Read more » Reuters

via – Twitter

No future of Sindh in Pakistan

By Gul Agha

A complete meltdown of Sindhi culture and no future of the thousands years old Indus civilization in Pakistan — Sindhis will not only lose their essential diversity, but be reduced to a minority in much more of Sindh with another 10+% of its Sindhi Hindu population forced to migrate to India and other countries by the reactionary deep state which is influenced by AL-Qaeda ideology. Mullahs must be countered.. they have huge support from the government agencies and through the educational system which tries to brainwash children through a ridiculous ideology in … and Pakistan studies courses.

Via – adopted from Facebook

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20 Hindu girls forced to convert in a month: HRCP

International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) has been instrumental in raising public awareness of caste discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 and creating a stir in the media. Media reports on caste discrimination have included issues such as bonded labour, untouchability, kidnapping and forced conversions of Dalits.

Media have also reported widely on discrimination in flood relief work in Pakistan following new monsoon rains, causing one of recent history’s worst disasters. Dalit communities were denied access to relief camps because of their caste and were forced to live under the open sky. The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits in the on-going flood relief work saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste is unacceptable. Nonetheless the discrimination continued throughout 2011. PDSN has worked to support Dalit victims of the flooding and bring their plight to the attention of authorities, International NGOs and agencies involved in relief operations.

2011 also saw an increased visibility of Dalit women in Pakistan and Ms. Kalavanti Raja joined PDSN as Coordinator of the women’s wing of the network. Ms. Raja participated in several events, including the Dalit Women’s conference in Kathmandu, a South Asian Dalit conference in Bangladesh, and the IDSN International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination and council meeting in Nepal, where PDSN Coordinators also took part. She spoke at several events and monitored Pakistani media attention to the issue of caste discrimination, with regular updates to IDSN on the situation.

Jinnah Institute, a think tank working on minority issues, released a report in 2011 highlighting caste discrimination in Pakistan. According to the report the vast majority of Dalits in Pakistan do not own lands and work on daily wages, a consequence of them not having any permanent settlement. The report said, “One day, they are with one landlord, the next day with another. And this is how they spend a life of debt, with no accountability or education.” Their castes have translated into daily life. For instance, Dalits may be restricted to separate water wells in school, “from which also Muslims will not drink.” Dalits working in bonded labour continues to be a central issue in Pakistan. They are often forced to work under terrible conditions in what has been deemed ‘modern slavery’ with no view to ever repaying their debts. This form of slavery is particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector, construction work, mining and textile industries.

Continue reading International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

East Pakistan, Balochistan, and now Sindh – Mohammad Ali Mahar

Not learning a lesson from the debacle of East Pakistan has brought Balochistan to the point where it is at the brink of ending its ties with the rest of the country, and the blame is being put on the ‘foreign element’ and the ‘misguided’ Baloch. If the real powers running the country refuse to hear the cries of Sindhis at this time, they would have no one to blame but themselves.

The PPP was always seen as a ray of hope for the Sindhis for a long time. A kind of last refuge. This administration has brought a common Sindhi to the point where he feels robbed of this hope. If ever there existed a Sindh card, the government has already sold it to its coalition partners for a few years in power

Continue reading East Pakistan, Balochistan, and now Sindh – Mohammad Ali Mahar

A national challenge

By Saad Hafiz

Excerpt;

….. Pakistan is being left behind as more developing countries make an effort to capitalize on the full human potential of their female population to drive economic development and social transformation. Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia have made significant progress in implementing gender equality in five critical areas: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and well-being. If Pakistan is to make economic and social progress in the near future it needs to educate its women from primary to the highest levels, open up economic opportunities to women, introduce social infrastructure and services to unburden women of the domestic and child care burdens and enforce laws to protect women’s rights. Hopefully, the education and empowerment of women in Pakistan will also result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful society.

To read complete article » PaK Tea House

“Innocents Die, Vultures Dance with Joy”

By Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom, Malaysia.

And, this is the reality in this country known as ‘Pakistan,’ where poverty-stricken, shirtless, shelter-less and loaf-less innocents are dying under the open skies and the voracious vultures have a field day and greedily feast on the bodies of the dead.

A large number of people affected by last year’s heavy monsoon rains took out a procession in Samaro town on Wednesday, calling upon the government to provide them permanent shelter, food, health and education facilities to enable them to lead a normal life again. Who will hear their wails and screams of help?

Continue reading “Innocents Die, Vultures Dance with Joy”

International Mother Language Day 21 February

By

It seems the founding fathers of Pakistan never really imagined a place for a Bengali speaking, large Hindu minority province. This is because the TNT demanded a full divorce from all that was Hindu. Such was the force of the ideology, there was even an effort to make Bengali arabicized and de-sanskritized!!

Bengali muslims were at the forefront of the partition movement but giving up Bengali was a bridge too far for them.

In the course of the Pakistani government’s occupation of Bangladesh (is there a better word though there were benighted efforts to improve “East Pakistan” it seemed an occupation stroke colonisation) to “Arabify” & “DeSanskritise” Bangla or Bengali (I don’t know which is appropriate to refer to in the English language I prefer using Persian over Farsi, Gypsy over Romany, Eskimo over can’t remember what oh yes Inuit, etc etc) it inadvertently sparked off a global movement to preserve “mother languages” (the usage of the word mother language reminds of me of the elegant song ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Lollipop Azadi Da – Raj Kakra

By Omar Ali

Raj Kakra is a lyricist and singer from Punjab (East Punjab in the Pakistani lexicon) who seems to reflect a mix of Sikh nationalism ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

“Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West” – They only ask others children to go to Heaven. Shame

Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West

He did not want them to follow jihad — report

By AFP

London: Slain Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden urged his younger children to go live peacefully in the West and get a university education, his brother-in-law said in an interview published on Sunday.

Zakaria Al Sadah, the brother of Bin Laden’s Yemeni fifth wife Amal, told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that the militant believed his children “should not follow him down the road to jihad”.

“He told his own children and grandchildren, ‘Go to Europe and America and get a good education,'” Al Sadah told the Sunday Times.

Al Sadah said Bin Laden told them: “You have to study, live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”

Bin Laden was killed in a commando raid in May 2011 by US Navy SEALs at a house in Abbottabad, northwest Pakistan.

Al Sadah said that in November he had seen his sister for the first time since she was shot in the knee during the raid and had since been allowed to have a number of meetings with her in the presence of guards.

He said the three wives and nine children who were in the compound — some are Bin Laden’s children and others are his grandchildren — have been held for months in a three-room flat in Islamabad. They are guarded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, he said.

The Sunday Times published what it said was the first photograph to show some of the young children from the compound: two sons and a daughter, and two grandsons and a granddaughter. The children were still traumatised after seeing the raid in which Bin Laden died, Al Sadah said.

“These children have seen their father killed and they need a caring environment, not a prison — whatever you think of their father and what he has done,” he said.

Courtesy: Gulf News

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/uk/bin-laden-told-his-children-to-live-in-peace-in-the-west-1.979749

Via – Twitter

PAKISTAN – The Islamic university where girls were raped

Today a news article in Dawn revealed the shocking case of female students and staff members forced to offer sexual favours in return for grades and demands of their immediate superiors.

I do not believe that this news is “shocking” because such cases are a rarity. In fact I believe that such cases probably proliferate throughout educational institutions, or indeed in any institution where men are in a position to extract sexual favours. This case is shocking because of the International Islamic University Islamabad’s indifference to these cases and its efforts to cover it up. Further, they have tried to justify their actions by claiming that they hushed up these allegations to protect the parents of female students and the reputation of the institution.

So what exactly has happened?

Continue reading PAKISTAN – The Islamic university where girls were raped

The PTI [Imran Khan’s] false promises won’t help

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Zero attention was paid to recent news which, in many a country, would justifiably have been cause for panic. But in Memogate obsessed Pakistan no military or civilian ruler — or any normally loquacious TV anchor — has yet commented upon the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). Released one week ago, this damning indictment of Pakistan’s schools shows how badly the country is failing to teach children even the most elementary of skills. For a country with a huge youth bulge and a population growing out of control, the consequences are fearsome.

Continue reading The PTI [Imran Khan’s] false promises won’t help

We’re killing education

By Dr Javaid R Laghari

Excerpt;

…. Pakistan must invest foremost in education with renewed vigour. The lower education must focus on improving quality, while the HEC must be supported to raise Pakistan’s knowledge workers’ level to world standards. Any other direction will be suicidal for Pakistan’s education.

The writer is chairman of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission. Email: jlaghari@hec. gov.pk

To read complete article » The News

Pregnant Woman Miscarries After Being Sprayed With Pepper Spray

By Matt Stopera

This is horrible. A pregnant protester named Jennifer Fox has miscarried after being pepper sprayed and hit in the stomach by Seattle police officers during a peaceful protest last week. ….

“I was standing in the middle of the crowd when the police started moving in,” she says. “I was screaming, ‘I am pregnant, I am pregnant. Let me through. I am trying to get out.'”

At that point, a Seattle police officer lifted his foot and it hit her in the stomach, and another officer pushed his bicycle into the crowd, again hitting Fox in the stomach. “Right before I turned, both cops lifted their pepper spray and sprayed me. My eyes puffed up and my eyes swelled shut,” she says. ….

Read more » BuzzFeed

Police pepper spraying and arresting Occupy Wall street protesters at UC Davis

» YouTube

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A Sleepy Campus In Crisis: Pepper Spray at UC Davis Sparks Online Uproar, Calls for a Chancellor’s Resignation

By Jens Erik Gould

When campus police demanded that 21-year-old Sophia Kamran and her fellow protesters dismantle the tents they had pitched on the quad at the University of California, Davis to protest tuition increases, they refused. Instead, as online videos of the incident depict, they sat peacefully with arms crossed as officers marched up to the protest line, one brandishing a can of pepper spray to those gathered, before dousing students repeatedly at point blank range. Protesters who covered their faces were sprayed under their shirts, and Kamran said one student vomited profusely after being sprayed directly in the mouth. “It was such an intense feeling. It felt like acid was being poured on our faces,” said Kamran, a philosophy and comparative literature major. “I was basically immobile and in a lot of pain.”

Friday’s pepper spray incident — which quickly went viral over the weekend after videos of the confrontation appeared online …

Read more » TIME.COM

Pakistan’s revolutionary youth join hands in the struggle: Meeting to form All-Pakistan Progressive Youth Alliance

– by Adam Pal

Events of the Arab Revolution and the movements across Europe and USA have once again vindicated the Marxist positions about the role of youth. It was the youth who initiated these revolutions and movements. Subcontinent and Pakistan have a rich history of the revolutionary role played by the youth. As the “best barometer of society”, the revolutionary youth of Pakistan have realized the need to join hands in their common struggle against oppression, unemployment, fundamentalism, discrimination, costly education and capitalism. …

Read more » Marxist.com

Absenteeism in Sindh schools worries World Bank and European Union

Absenteeism at schools worries WB, EU officials

By Azizullah Sharif

SINDH – KARACHI, Oct 28: Officials of the World Bank and the European Union on Friday voiced their concern over the existence of `ghost` and closed schools in different districts of Sindh and absenteeism of teachers from schools.

This and other issues figured at a meeting held between Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and a joint delegation of the World Bank and European Union comprising Vishant Raju, Peter Poiter and Ms Louis.

Sindh Education Secretary Siddik Memon and Resource Support Unit`s programme managers Pervaiz Ahmed and Raeesa Ali were also present.

The issues concerning the closure of schools and long absence of teachers from schools were raised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and EU officials when the minister informed them that more funds were required to repair and renovate a large number of schools, which had been damaged in the recent floods.

The minister said that the Sindh government by appointing teachers in two phases had already made a number of schools functional. He added that many other schools lying closed would be reopened with the hiring of more teachers in a third phase ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

A Pakistani Christian student’s question to the High Court

Is a Pakistani Christian equal to a fellow Muslim?

“A young Pakistani student belonging to the Christian faith has posed an interesting question through a petition in the Lahore High Court. The question is: Am I, a Pakistani Christian equal to a fellow citizen who is a Muslim ? For those of the readers who missed the news item reported by an English daily, this young student belongs to a low income group, is a practicing Christian and extremely bright. She has been competing to get into the King Edwards Medical College but was beaten on the list by 20 marks by a Muslim student who got the extra 20 marks for being Hafiz–e-Quran. So, now this young Christian girl has filed a plea in the Lahore Court declaring that she and the Muslim student had equal marks but the latter got the advantage of religion. The young Christian student claims that “this is discrimination against religious minority students and a violation of fundamental rights granted by the Constitution of Pakistan.” The petition admitted by the Lahore High Court demands that either the LHC should rule to abolish the policy or should declare that a parallel policy should be made to award twenty additional marks to religious minority students on the basis of their religious knowledge. Fifty eight years after the creation of the country to ask such a question through the courts is both tragic and hopeful”.
Constitution of Pakistan, Part II, Chapter -1, Fundamental Rights, Article 22 says:-

(1) No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own.

(2) In respect of any religious institution, there shall be no discrimination against any community in the granting of exemption or concession in relation to taxation.

(3) Subject to law: (a) no religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any educational institution maintained wholly by that community or denomination; and

(b) no citizen shall be denied admission to any educational institution receiving aid from public revenues on the ground only of race, religion, caste or place of birth.

(4) Nothing in this Article shall prevent any public authority from making provision for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward class of citizens.

Read more » Pak Tribune

Desis stay away from Occupy Wall Street

by Dr. Qaisar Abbas

Excerpt;

While the American silent majority has spoken lodging its protest throughout America, the so-called model minority of Desis seems to be in a state of perpetual silence. The affluent are part of a capitalist system which they cannot afford to oppose anyway. On the other hand, the disadvantaged communities of the diaspora are so isolated from the American society; they do not feel to be part of a grassroots movement …

…. The grassroots agitation against the exploitative capitalist system is challenging the powerful businessmen, financial institutions and politicians in the United States. The recent issue of the progressive journal “The Nation” reports the deplorable economic conditions in the United States in these figures:

  • Twenty five million Americans are unemployed who are desperately looking for jobs
  • While corporate CEOs are paid handsomely, wages of 70% Americans without college education are declining
  • One in 6 American lives below the poverty line
  • One in four homes, considered to be the largest asset for most Americans, is at the verge of foreclosure and eviction by banks for nonpayment of mortgage loans
  • Fifty million people are unable to afford health insurance as healthcare costs are soaring
  • The economy works well for the rich 1% who control 40% of the wealth
  • Multinationals have conveniently transferred domestic jobs in other countries to reduce production costs
  • The rising cost of education is becoming unbearable for youth and they are burdened with a record high education loans ….

Read more » ViewPoint

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

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day (October 10), is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.[1] It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.[2]This day, each October thousands of supports come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to Mental Illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide.[3]In some countries this day is part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness

Read more » WikipediA