Tag Archives: Feeling

I.A. Rehman on forced conversions – THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms

Unwelcome conversions

By I.A Rehman

THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity for several weeks. Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms.

The issue of Hindu girls’ conversion to Islam and marriage to Muslim men, both transitions alleged to be forced and often after abduction, is not new. Indeed, it has always been high on the Hindu citizens’ list of complaints. What is new is the scale and intensity of their reaction and the large number of their appeals for justice. It seems three recent cases involving Rinkal Kumari, Lata Kumari and Aasha Kumari have unleashed the Hindu community’s long-brewing fears of loss of its religious and cultural identities.

The three cases are not identical in detail. Dr Murli Lal Karira, who belonged to Jacobabad and practised medicine at Suhbatpur, in Jafarabad district, was reported to have been abducted while travelling homeward. Some days later, his niece, Aasha Kumari Karira, who was taking lessons at a Jacobabad beauty parlour, did not return home after her work hours, and was believed to have been abducted. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Dr Lata Kumari, the 29-year old daughter of a medical practitioner from Jacobabad and employed at one of Karachi’s premier medical institutions, was reported to have married a young Muslim man after converting to Islam. Her father alleged that her conversion and marriage took place under coercion after abduction and he moved the high court for redress. The lady denies these allegations. She came to the court when her husband applied for bail before arrest.

The brother of Rinkal Kumari (18) says she was abducted by unknown persons, allegedly backed by an influential MNA. Her family had difficulty in filing an FIR. The next day she and the young man she was said to have married after conversion to Islam were presented in a court at Mirpur Mathelo, while her family had been told to go to a court in Ghotki. The family was not allowed to see her. It is said that she told the magistrate she wanted to go with her family but the latter reportedly expressed his inability to allow a Muslim girl to go to a non-Muslim house and sent her to a Darul Aman. Subsequently she is said to have modified her statement.

One suspects that these cases have provoked an unusual wave of protest because unlike the poor and voiceless victims in earlier cases of forced conversion-marriage affairs, the women now involved come of socially noteworthy families who have some access to electronic means of communication.

Several non-Muslim citizens have argued that these women have been, or are being, forced to accept conversion and marriage under threats of dire consequences to their families if they refuse to surrender.

The state of the common Hindu citizens’ mind is reflected in the e-mail Rinkal Kumari’s brother addressed to the chief justice of Pakistan (copied to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan). He says that Rinkal’s abductors have told her that “if she wants to save her parents’ life she should choose to convert [change] her religion and marry [an] unknown guy…. And yesterday [the] judge ordered that [the] girl wants to change her religion and want[s] to marry …Naveed…. [The] judge even didn’t allow [the] girl to meet … her parents or anybody from her family. There were 500-700 people in [the] courtroom all with guns and there was nobody from [the] girl’s family…. Now hundred[s] of people will take advantage of [the] 18-year-old girl and after that they will sell her to somebody”. Nobody with a reasonably sound heart will fail to be moved by the feelings of anguish and despair oozing from these words.

These cases raise several questions of a fundamental nature.

Continue reading I.A. Rehman on forced conversions – THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms

Sindhi middle class politics

By Javed Ahmed Qazi

Sindhi politics are a paradox. When there is democracy, the political pendulum swings towards the PPP, and when there is dictatorship, people support ethnic politic parties.

The ethnic parties that represent the middle class hardly ever win legislative assembly seats. But when they called strikes recently, the entire province came to a standstill. And that is a sign the middle class is starting to matter.

Although separatist movements are more popular in Balochistan, their flags are not displayed openly. SindhuDesh flags are seen all over the Sindh.

In his book Idea of Pakistan, Stephan Cohen says: “An independent Sindh would block the access of the rest of Pakistan to the sea. Separatist movements there were intolerable to the central government and a mixture of inducement and punishment was applied to keep the nationalist sentiments in check.” But “Sindhi separatist feeling still exists today, and political unrest runs deep”.

Sindhi nationalists are generally anti-establishment, and are not ready to stop supporting the PPP for either ZulfiqarMirza or MarviMemon.

The hub of middle-class Sindi politics is the Qasimabad town of Hyderabad. For a long time, Sindh University in Jamsharo supplied its cadres. Dr QadirMagsi, Bashir Qureshi, and Gul Muhammad Jakhrani began politics when they were students. But partly because of the ban on student unions and partly because of two streams of education, that has changed.

Hyderabad is also the hub of Sindhi press, and editorial pages specifically address issues of ethnic orientation – governance, economy, taxes, and long standing water related debates.

The middle class has grown substantially all over the province in the last few decades, but the economy is not entrepreneurial. Most middle-class professionals are teachers, journalists, retailers, clerics, government employees, or skilled workers.

The birth of the middle in Sindh began in the 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave out government jobs, set up universities and built roads in the province. But eventually, he also sternly suppressed middle class political voices.

The ethnic Sindhi middle class has traditionally been wary of the Punjabis as well as the Mohajirs. While President AsifZardari has helped pacify the Mohajir-Sindhi differences in the recent past, issues between the two groups remain unresolved.

Ethnic Sindhis also have concerns about distribution of river water with Punjab and are especially concerned about the proposed Kalabagh Dam.

Sindhi politics have been secular and Sufi-leaning so far, but Taliban-friendly seminaries have recently made inroads in northern Sindh. The development has specifically concerned Sindh’s Hindu community, but Shias are comparatively safe.

A vast majority of Sindhis is Sunni, but they have immense respect of Shias. Many Sindhi feudals are also Shia. A large number of Sufi shrines are taken care of by Shias, and even Hindus have a say in the affairs of those shrines.

Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in Sindh before Partition, and the Sindhi middle class accuses the feudals of having instigated Hindu-Muslim riots for political gains. Middle-class Sindhi politicians were popular in Sindh before the riots, it is said, and Shiekh Abdul Majeed Sindhi defeated Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, father of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in the 1937 elections.

Sindhi ethnic parties had also supported Sheikh MujiburRehman, because there was a perception in Sindh that the Bengali nationalist movement and Sindhi nationalist movement had common goals and a common rival – the middle class of Punjab.

The demand for an independent SindhuDesh was first made in 1973, but it has never been as popular as the separatist movement of Bangladesh, or even the recent separatist movement in Balochistan.

Courtesy: Friday Times

‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

By Khaled Ahmed

Expansion of judicial power is welcome, but one must not forget that there is also such a thing as judicial excess

On 30 February 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) has allowed former Pakistani ambassador to US Husain Haqqani to travel abroad after an important witness in the ‘memo’ case finally refused to present himself at the judicial commission set up by the Court. This is the first sign of gradual erosion of the charges that were finally to target President Zardari as the originator of ‘treason’ against the Pakistan Army through an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz.

Analysts believe the Court has been let down by the other parties interested in crucifying the PPP leader and sending the PPP government packing before its term. Nawaz Sharif may have stitched up a deal with Zardari over the timing of next general election; and the Army may have been appeased through Zardari’s sacrifice of Husain Haqqani as burnt offering to the generals. At the time of writing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was defending Prime Minister Gilani against a charge of contempt and persuading the honourable Court to relent and be satisfied with a belated letter to the Swiss authorities.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing two cases – and a third one is coming up later in the month – that threaten to expose it to lack of judicial restraint. At home, internecine politics and the besiegement of the ruling party give it the ballast with which it can keep going if it wants. But the lawyers’ movement – which deluded it into feeling that it was backed by ‘the nation’ rather than the Constitutionis split at the top, the vanguard of its leaders now skeptical of its steamrollering activism. Internationally too it is now facing isolation.

On January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the memo affair, saying ‘there are legitimate concerns‘ that, by neglecting the rights of the ex-ambassador Husain Haqqani, the Court ‘may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry. The ICJ supported the ousted Supreme Court and consistently accepted its activism in a national environment of extreme dereliction and corruption in state institutions topped by the incumbent executive.

Sitting inside Pakistan and bristling over country’s eroding sovereignty, it is easy to be isolationist and ignore the ICJ warning. Those among the top lawyers – Asma Jahangir, Munir A Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan – who have decided to caution judicial restraint after a bout of activism so intense it looked like revenge, are being cursed by the mainly conservative and bucolic (mufassil) lawyers’ community as well as the media clearly bent on getting rid of a largely dysfunctional PPP government.

The ‘national consensus’ is chiding the Supreme Court to review just anything under the sun as the forum of last resort. There is no forum higher than the Supreme Court if you feel aggrieved. Except that the Court takes an objective view of its authority and a realistic view of the fallibilities of a third world state cut to pieces by terrorism. It is more difficult to convict a known terrorist in Pakistan than the sitting prime minister.

Continue reading ‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

Setting the house in order

By Saroop Ijaz

The difficulty of maintaining a pretence of conducting a profound analysis in Pakistan is that nothing ever ends. So the event one seeks to comment on is always underway hence, exposing the commentator to the real possibility of indignity in misinterpreting the happenings. The mayhem of the last few days is not over yet. It does, however, point out the fragility and precariousness of this architecture of democracy. It is almost as if this period of democratic governance is a momentary armistice, a feebly vulnerable interruption to the continuous military rule. Another disturbingly striking thing is the complete abandonment of core principles on the first sight of attack. In all fairness, none of this is unprecedented but it manages to make one cringe every time.

The prime minister is empowered to terminate the contract of a federal secretary and to comment on the conduct of the army and intelligence chief and for this reason it is hardly news worthy enough of interrupting the nation in frenzied tones. There has been some feeing of triumphalism and jubilation on being able to thwart or possibly delay a coup. Perhaps rightly so, yet the most recent episode is unique in the public manner in which the whole episode was conducted. Gone are the days where out of the blue, one will see a pompous general creeping out of nowhere and saying ‘meray aziz humwatanon’ on national television. This time, the intimidation and bullying was deliberately done in the full view of the public eye, the ISPR press release cautioning of “dire consequences” had the unmistakable slant of blackmail. The utter absence of embarrassment was unbelievable. It was like being subjected to the ISPR version of O J Simpson’s, “If I did it.” The response by the media and the politicians failed to ask the most basic question; did the ISPR posses any justification, legal or moral to threaten an elected parliament. Toni Morrison, once writing about the progress of African Americans in the United States said, “The question is whether our walk is progress or merely movement.” All this coming after four years of democratic rule, ours seems to be an awkward stationary wiggle.

If one is compelled to identify a positive coming out of this fiasco, it will probably be the fact that most of the media and major political parties refused to welcome the khakis. I have a mild suspicion that many of them did it grudgingly; it was the sheer impracticality of a ‘direct’ military takeover which guided their comments as opposed to any meaningful commitment to democracy. In any event, they merit whatever small congratulation is due. Nevertheless, whereas, it is a ridiculously easy and even intuitive question when asked to choose between an elected parliament and the khakis, I believe the real test lies ahead and not so far ahead. It would be if the same demagoguery is garbed in an intervention obtained through a judicial order or some other permutation of what has been somewhat suggestively named, ‘soft coup’. I have a feeling, the response by those agreeing to the abstract notions of democracy in such an event would be more of a waffle and exposing — I certainly hope I am wrong.

The prime minister has already formed the undesirable habit of displaying almost schizophrenic alternating bouts of gallantry and meekness. The ostensible reason is to avoid institutional conflict. It is not a ‘conflict’, it is capitulation in the face of assault, certainly not self-preservation in any long-term meaning. A lot of ink has been spilled (or at least the word processor equivalent) on how to set the civil-military balance incrementally right by people having considerably more expertise on such matters than myself. Yet, the answer to me, at least, is fairly simple. The prime minister should sack the army chief and the director general ISI for gross misconduct and insubordination. To put it at its harshest, their performance records, especially recently have been humiliatingly ordinary. Even otherwise, they cannot claim to be not given a fair innings, they have served, perhaps more accurately commanded for a period reasonably exceeding the normal. In any event, they have considerably overstayed their welcome. I know this proposal seems incredibly naïve even reckless, but I am afraid that needs to be done, even if it means staking the government on it. To romanticise it a bit, “Conscientious Objector” is a beautiful poem by Edna St Vincent Millay, some of its verses go,” I shall die, but/ that is all I shall do for Death/ I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/ I hear the clatter on the barn-floor/ ….But I will not hold the bridle/While he clinches the girth/ And he may mount by himself / I will not give him a leg up.”

I do not in any way suggest a literal scenario as terminally grim as that in the poem but Mr Prime Minister, at least, do not give them a leg up. Trying to maintain a wobbly equilibrium, a false feeling of reconciliation and shallow coexistence will not work, it never has, never does. In terms of basic economics, it is the case of Gresham’s law, the bad would drive out the good, if it is overvalued long enough with a clear preference. Negotiating or plea bargaining the way in and out of situations where you are strong-armed is not survival or diplomacy. It has now become a question of modalities and timing, rather than “if”. Stories both in real life and fiction are remembered inordinately by the ending. Albert Camus ends his La Peste (The Plague) by observing that though the plague was over and the city had returned to normalcy, “the plague bacillus never dies … that it can lie dormant in furniture and linen chests… perhaps the day would come when,… it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city”. Fire the two generals and make a point, the bogus feeling of security is going to end soon anyways.

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/321514/setting-the-house-in-order/

Feel-good facts for bad feeling Pakistanis

– by Nadeem F. Paracha

Furry Factoid #1: Muslims walked on the moon centuries before the Americans did.

How ironic it is that for decades Muslim children have been taught that it was an American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon (in 1969).

Though Armstrong did walk on the moon, he was NOT the first man to do so. Surprised? Of course you are, because after all we have been taught history written by biased Orientalists.

We have forgotten that it was actually a Muslim warrior, Muhammad Bin Qasim, who was the first man to walk on the moon. And he did so in the 8th century AD!

Just before he conquered Sindh in the subcontinent, Qasim was a young camel expert and amateur astronomer (all before he turned five). At age 15, he succeeded in breeding a special kind of Arab camel that could run faster than the speed of light and also fly.

Qasim then told the governor of Baghdad that he was ready to conquer not only the whole world but the moon too. However, the governor was a tad short-sighted and wanted him to stick to just conquering Sindh.

Qasim blasted his camel and men towards Sindh, but overshot it by, say, a few million miles, and ended up on the surface of the moon.

Being a wily astronomer, he had also invented the world’s first ever astronaut suit and helmet made from, yup, you guessed it, camel skin and bones.

Nevertheless, finding the moon to be a somewhat boring place with little gravity and all and absolutely no date palms, Qasim shot back and this time finally landed in Sindh. Unfortunately his camel died on impact and was buried in what is today Hyderabad in the Qasim Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

After Qasim’s death (from rotten vegetarian food that he was given by Sindh’s scheming Hindus), Muslims lost all the know-how and technology invented by Captain Qasim.

Then in 1960, American CIA agents masquerading as archeologists, dug up the remains of Qasim’s camel in Hyderabad and used its skeleton to build the very rocket (Apollo 11) that took Armstrong to the moon.

Captain Qasim’s miraculous feat was all but forgotten in the mist of Orientalist history, Western propaganda and some bad hip-hop music. Shame. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Begumpura …!?

‘Colony of wives’ thrives in Mississauga

by Raveena Aulakh

Ilmana Fasih was at a wedding in Mississauga when she suffered an emotional meltdown.

She remembers loud, lively music, table upon table of mouth-watering food and people chatting, cracking jokes. “I just started crying,” Fasih says. “I was feeling terrible that my husband wasn’t there . . .

“There were all these families while I felt so incomplete.”

That moment a year ago marked a new low in her life, concedes the 44-year-old, her voice breaking.

Fasih, who trained as a gynecologist in her native India, lives in Mississauga with her two teenaged children while her husband, Syed, works in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

They have been apart for more than two years, communicating mainly by phone and reuniting just twice a year.

“My husband is lonely and frustrated . . . (and) so am I,” Fasih says. “It’s a pretty bad situation we are in.

“Yes, I am one of the Begumpura types,” she notes wryly.

Begumpura is an Urdu expression (literally, “where women live”) used for the GTA’s “colony of wives” — some half-dozen neighbourhoods in Mississauga where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of South Asian women, most of Pakistani origin, live with their kids while their husbands work in the Middle East.

Many immigrate to Canada as families, but the men, unable to find work in their professions, eventually move to the Middle East. Others, already living in the Persian Gulf region, where the men hold high-paying positions, move to Canada to give their children a more promising future.

Continue reading Begumpura …!?

Problems of Sindhi Nationalism – What way forward?

Written by Dr Beenish Shoro

Excerpt:

…. In Pakistan the national question exists in its worst form because Pakistan itself is an example of a failed nation state. Pakistan was created as a result of the partition of the Indian subcontinent as the British imperialists and the local/national bourgeois leaders feared that a united national liberation would not stop there but would move towards a social transformation that would overthrow landlordism, capitalism and the imperialist strangle hold. To avoid a socialist revolution they conspired and split the movement along religious lines that led to the reactionary and traumatic partition of a land that had more than five thousand years of common history, cultural and socio economic existence.

Pakistan was founded not as a nation state, but as a state made up of nationalities. Even the abbreviations which form the word Pakistan are a testimony to this fact. This corresponds to its belated character. … National oppression has been brutal and rough ever since the country came into being. ….

….the separation of Bangladesh, the inability to resolve regional and sectarian disputes, the inability to sustain a clear concept and direction to Pakistan’s Nationalism and finally failure to create a modern cohesive nation state.

Pakistan’s political system is dominated by elite groups. In addition it faces the dilemma of chronic military rule. ….

….Sindh, the southern most province of the state possesses one of the most varied demographical set-ups in Pakistan. There is a very fragile ethnic balance between Sindhis and non-Sindhis. After partition many of the immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India moved mainly to Karachi, but also to Hyderabad, Sukkur and other cities of Sindh.

This massive influx of Mohajirs from India and other nationalities resulted in a greater control of people from this transmigration over the economy, jobs and posts in the state apparatus. Although this phenomenon had a greater impact on urban Sindh, the deprivation was felt also in rural Sindh especially amongst the Sindhi middle classes. The acquisition of State and other lands by Punjab Generals and other settlers further aggravated this feeling of national deprivation amongst the Sindhi populace. There are several other factors which fuelled these sentiments. ….

….At the heart of nationalist sentiments in Pakistan is the perception by non-Punjabis that the Punjabi nationality dominates the economy, politics, society and the state. There is considerable evidence to support this perception. First, Punjabis constitute a majority of the population, approximately 60%; second, they dominate the civilian bureaucracy and the military; third, the Punjab is by far the wealthiest and most developed province in the state. And this perception is ironically fuelled by governmental policies designed to assuage such perceptions. ….

…. G. M. Syed can rightly be considered as the founder of Sindhi nationalism. He formed the Sindh Progressive Party in 1947 and demanded provincial autonomy within a socialist framework. In 1953 he formed the SindhAwami Mahaz. G. M. Syed himself a middle sized landlord represented the grievances of that class as well. …

… There have been several movements in Sindh over the last 60 years but there are three very significant mass upsurges that shook the echelons of power in Islamabad. These are the movements of 1968-69, 1983 and to some extent that of 1986. All these movements had different intensities, character, orientation and motivations. …

Zia was the son of a Mullah who had migrated from Eastern (Indian) Punjab and was American-trained at Fort Bragg. His atrocities, his make up and his background were enough to provoke massive hatred from the masses in Sindh. Zia’s repression of the Sindh was no less than the brutalities of British colonialists inflicted upon the mass of the subcontinent and other colonies. All this unleashed a glorious movement of the Sindhi masses against the military dictatorship. Although this movement had significant nationalist overtones, fundamentally it was linked to the general class resentment against this regime.

The movement failed because the regime was able to foster ethnic and nationalist discord especially in urban Sindh and in other main cities and provinces of Pakistan. In Karachi the Pakistani state devised the instrument of the MQM, the Punjabi Pushtoon Ittehad, Islamic fundamentalists and other reactionary outfits to break the momentum of struggle that was developing along class lines.

Still the movement raged on. In such circumstances whenever national antagonisms coincided with class contradictions they became especially hot. According to the official figures 1263 innocent people were slaughtered by the army in rural Sindh while thousands more were injured. There are heroic episodes of resistance that have now become legends in Sindhi folklore. …

… In 1986 the movement in Sindh was actually the last nail in Zia’s coffin. …

… If we in Sindh should achieve “freedom” through the same phenomenon as in Bangladesh we may well get freedom from non-Sindhi capitalists, but we will be all the more cruelly exploited by Sindhi capitalists and landlords. These nationalists do not want freedom from poverty, misery, unemployment; they just want freedom to establish control over their own market where they could extract a huge surplus by squeezing the last drop of the workers’ blood.

The feudal landlords want freedom to exploit the peasants and working class …

… We will take revenge for the crime of partition of India through the formation of a Red Revolutionary Subcontinent. As Comrade Lal khan says, “The unification of the Indian subcontinent will be on a much higher plane than the 1947 Partition.” …

To read full article :→ Marxist.com

Pakistan : A great deal of ruin in a nation

Excerpt:

Why Islam took a violent and intolerant turn in Pakistan, and where it might lead

“TYPICAL Blackwater operative,” says a senior military officer, gesturing towards a muscular Westerner with a shaven head and tattoos, striding through the lobby of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel. Pakistanis believe their country is thick with Americans working for private security companies contracted to the Central Intelligence Agency; and indeed, the physique of some of the guests at the Marriott hardly suggests desk-bound jobs.

Pakistan is not a country for those of a nervous disposition. Even the Marriott lacks the comforting familiarity of the standard international hotel, for the place was blown up in 2008 by a lorry loaded with explosives. The main entrance is no longer accessible from the road; guards check under the bonnets of approaching cars, and guests are dropped off at a screening centre a long walk away.

Some 30,000 people have been killed in the past four years in terrorism, sectarianism and army attacks on the terrorists. The number of attacks in Pakistan’s heartland is on the rise, and Pakistani terrorists have gone global in their ambitions. This year there have been unprecedented displays of fundamentalist religious and anti-Western feeling. All this might be expected in Somalia or Yemen, but not in a country of great sophistication which boasts an elite educated at Oxbridge and the Ivy League, which produces brilliant novelists, artists and scientists, and is armed with nuclear weapons. …

…. The future would look brighter if there were much resistance to the extremists from political leaders. But, because of either fear or opportunism, there isn’t. The failure of virtually the entire political establishment to stand up for Mr Taseer suggests fear; the electioneering tour that the law minister of Punjab took with a leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba last year suggests opportunism. “The Punjab government is hobnobbing with the terrorists,” says the security officer. “This is part of the problem.” A state increasingly under the influence of extremists is not a pleasant idea.

It may come out all right. After all, Pakistan has been in decline for many years, and has not tumbled into the abyss. But countries tend to crumble slowly. As Adam Smith said, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” The process could be reversed; but for that to happen, somebody in power would have to try.

To read full article : Economist

Taliban & The Girl from the Swat Flogging

The Girl from the Swat Flogging

An interview with Saira Bibi

Tell us about the day of the flogging.

I don’t remember the exact date, but it was in January 2009. My husband works at a coalmine in Hyderabad and he was away. He had asked us to organize a lunch for one of his friends who had recently got married. After the lunch guests left, we heard noises at our door. They were shouting for us to quickly come out of the house. My mother-in-law asked them who they were. They said they were the Taliban. They said there were some allegations against me, and they wanted to question me. I told my mother-in-law I had no reason to face them. They kept shouting, threatening to drag me out themselves. My brother-in-law took me to them. He said we have no choice, that I should trust Allah.

What did the Taliban say to your family? How were you feeling when you left with them?

They said I would have to defend myself in their Shariah court which was set up at a government-run primary school for girls about 200 meters from our home. So we walked there. I was scared. In my mind, I was walking toward my death.

What happened at the school?

When I got to this self-declared Shariah court, I saw three men with long beards who were fully equipped with weapons. One of the Taliban there accused me of having an illicit relationship with the friend of my husband whom we had had the lunch for. He said I would have to face punishment; that I will have to be flogged because that is what Islam says. I denied the allegation, but they didn’t listen to me. One of them told me to bend my head toward my knees, and then they started flogging me. Another one counted up to 15 for each time I was struck. They told me to walk to the nearby ground for the final decision. As I walked there I was thinking they are going to slit my throat and kill me like they have others. There was a mob gathered there. I was told to lie face down on the ground. Two men held my hands down, another had his hand on my neck, a third one held my feet. I kept shouting I am innocent. I kept crying to Allah to help me. They lashed me another 15 times. After the second round of flogging, I wasn’t able to walk and my brother-in-law had to assist me back home. ….

Read more : http://www.newsweekpakistan.com/the-take/244

Salmaan Taseer: assassinated on a perilous path – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Salmaan Taseer dedicated his personal fortune to the cause of publishing the unvarnished truth and the people’s right to know this truth. It would not have been possible for this paper’s editorial board to carry itself independently were it not for Salmaan Taseer’s personal commitment to not only this project but to the very freedoms of speech and expression.

“The sorrowful smell of the mist,

Lingering over the Indus,

Gentle waves of rice, dung and rind,

This is the salt cry of Sindh,

As I die let me feel,

The fragrance of tears”

— Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.

“It was a Sindhi poet, Shah Abdul Latif, who captured the forlornness of his country in this haunting verse,” wrote Salmaan Taseer in the opening chapter of his 1979 book, Bhutto: A Political Biography. I have read these words many times but had never once thought that the forlornness might get deeper than the deepest depression one could feel. But the assassination of Salmaan Taseer has left many of us even more devastated and depressed than what Shah Latif could depict.

I do not mourn Salmaan Taseer alone but I also mourn those who have been killed before him on the perilous path of speaking their mind, and those who will be killed in the future on this journey. Ayesha Siddiqa, Kamran Shafi, Nadeem Farooq Paracha, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Sherry Rehman,  and so many others are living on borrowed time. It is not a matter of if but when an indoctrinated bigot let loose by the deep state will get to them or, for that matter, any of us who decline to follow the rotten creed that it has been peddling for decades.

However, I have a feeling that Salmaan Taseer would not have wanted to be remembered with melancholy. His illustrious father, Dr M D Taseer, once said:

Parwana jal kay dil ki muradon ko pa gaya, Aur shama reh gayi rukh-e-zeba liay huay” (Translation: The light-loving moth has died caressing the candle flame. The candle thus remains alone in all its elegance).

It is nearly impossible to accurately translate the above Urdu verse, which my father, Malik Rahat Ali, had quoted while writing Dr M D Taseer’s obituary for Edward’s College, Peshawar’s magazine Tajjali (light) in 1951. The obituary was titled ‘Aik raushan dimagh tha, na raha’ (an enlightened mind is no more). It is amazing how references to light and progressive thought keep popping up when discussing the Taseers and in the work of the Taseers themselves. Pakistan, and the liberal thought within Pakistan, is the candle that Salmaan and M D Taseer loved to the extent that to see it remain alight, they would dedicate their lives to it.

When thinking of Salmaan Taseer, two images come to mind. One is of a political activist and the second is of a patron of progressive and liberal thought. Perhaps senior members of the Indo-Pakistani leftist movement will recall that Dr M D Taseer, along with Abdullah Malik and Rajindra Singh Bedi had pioneered a liberal publishing house called Sangham Publishers in 1947, before the partition. I would not be wrong in assuming that the Daily Times and its media affiliates came into being due to Salmaan Taseer’s desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. …

Read more : Daily Times

What is depression?

Depression is common illness that affects 20- 30% of world population. Depression can change a person’s thoughts, feelings, body and behaviour. It is treatable.

Common Symptoms & Signs: There are many symptoms associated with depression including: Feeling depressed, sad or empty most of days. The person no longer interested in or enthusiastic about things normally like to do. Lost interest in sex. Often feel agitated, restless or irritable? Feeling of helpless. Experiencing weight loss or gain or change in appetite. Feel tired or have little energy. Feeling of worthlessness. Feeling of guiltiness. Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions. Have recurring thoughts of death or suicide. Feeling of anxiousness. Have low self-esteem. Using alcohal or drugs to deal the problems. Productivity decreased. Problems with morale. Problems with cooperating. Frequently absent from work. Frequently experience unexplained aches and pains.

Causes of depression: Different theories about the causes are as following: Genetic- it runs in your family, Childhood circumstances, Biological causes- changes in body chemistry, prolonged periods of stress, Personality/attitude- pessimism, low self-esteem or worry can increase your vulnerability, other chronic medical conditions- such as stroke, heart disease, thyroid disorder, diabetes and sleep apnea. The consumption of sugar also contribute to multiply the depression. Typically these factors are interwoven and more than one may give to depression.