In an opinion piece written recently on the attack on a Hindu temple in Larkana, the writer was of the opinion that the issue must not be taken too seriously. Larkana is not Gojra, Punjab. Thank God for that! But Gojra didn’t happen in a day. The burning of the Hindu temple is an indicator of the gradual transformation of, what was once, a peace-loving society. Like Charles Napier, who sent a telegram after winning the final battle in this area, saying that “I have sinned”, indeed, the extremist forces have Sindh and will gradually challenge plural sociocultural norms, just the way it happened in South Punjab.
By Farahnaz Ispahani
After each act of violence against religious minorities, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Sipah-e-Sahaba proudly own up to it without fear of punishment
The recent mob attack on Christians in Lahore, resulting in the burning down of over one hundred Christian homes while the police stood by, is a reminder of how unsafe Pakistan has become for religious minorities. The attacks on Christians follows a rising tide of attacks on Pakistan’s Shia Muslims, sometimes mischaracterised in the media as the product of sectarian conflict. In reality, these increasingly ferocious attacks reflect the ambitious project of Islamists to purify Pakistan, making it a bastion of a narrow version of Islam Sunni. Pakistan literally translates as “the land of the pure”. But, what started in an imperceptible way as early as the 1940s, picking up momentum in the 1990s, is a drive to transform Pakistan into a land of religious purification.
Muslim groups such as the Shias that account for possibly 20-25% of Pakistan’s Muslim population and Non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have been target-killed, forcibly converted, kidnapped and had their religious places bombed and vandalised with alarming regularity. At the time of partition in 1947, Pakistan had a healthy 23% of its population comprise non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately three per cent. The distinctions among Muslim denominations have also become far more accentuated over the years.
By Xari Jalil
LAHORE, March 9: “Burn us too!” wails a woman, her hands repeatedly hitting her head. “Did they leave us alive to see all this?” Her tears stream down her face and her nose is red and swollen. In one of the doorways, a mother and son stand hugging each other and weeping as if someone has just died. “They took everything from us…” sobs the boy. “Those robbers took everything we had worked hard for.”
Not many of the homes in Joseph Colony are left intact. They are now skeletons, empty shells, housing nothing but ashes.
The Christian families, who had been shifted one night ago for ‘safety’ as the police told them, only came the next day to find out that all of their belongings and all their assets – in fact everything that they owned had been ransacked, robbed, and the rest mercilessly burnt to the ground. All because one man from among them was accused under Section 295-C: an accusation which has not been proved.
While the police remain guarded, only carefully revealing any kind of information to the media, and the Muslim community prefer to remain mute, the Christians are ablaze with fury.
“There are about 250 families in total,” says Aslam Masih. “Each family has faced a loss of about Rs0.8 to Rs0.9 million, and this figure is the lowest I am talking about.”
Mariam Bibi stands in her doorway peering inside. She cannot step inside because the ashes are still white and burning, and acrid, black smoke fumes out angrily.
“We saved every penny to collect for my daughter’s dowry,” she sobs. “In one night they have left us homeless and out on the streets. Where will we sleep now?”
By Riaz Sohail
A court in Pakistan has ordered police to find a Hindu woman who was allegedly abducted and forced to marry her Muslim husband.
In a petition before the Sindh High Court, the family of Rinkle Kumari say that her abduction was supported by a powerful politician.
But her husband’s friends say that she voluntarily left home in Sindh province and willingly converted to Islam.
Judges at the court said that Ms Kumari must be produced before them next week.
Human rights activists say that other reported abductions of members of minority communities in Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, have not been properly investigated by the authorities.
In the most recent case, Hindu community leaders say that an oath Ms Kumari made in front of a court in her home town that she had freely got married and converted to Islam was made under duress.
They say that many others like her have been forcibly taken away by powerful politicians – some allied to the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The Hindu community has accused one of the party’s MPs, Mian Abdul Haq, of supporting the abduction and the forced conversion.
But in an interview with the BBC he strenuously denied the allegations.
“I contacted her family when Rinkle came to me last month,” he said.
“But they refused to respond – and then I was left with no choice but to convert her to Islam and get her married [according to] her will.”
Ms Kumari’s family say that she was kidnapped from her home on 24 February by Naveed Shah – who later married her.
They say that they have registered a police complaint against Mr Shah even though he appeared in court on 25 February with Ms Kumari, who made a statement before the magistrate that she had married him of her own free will.
The family and community leaders, however, say that the magistrate was under “a great deal of pressure” because hundreds of armed tribesmen loyal to Mr Haq were in the court premises.
Mr Haq said that his supporters would abide by the court ruling and that Ms Kumari would appear in court on 12 March.
More » Where shall we go?
I read the news while exploring the internet on my iPad, sitting at the airport on my way back home from our annual APPNA conference. The news said, “Shadab Qadri, the leader of Sunni Tehreek, said the politician’s daughter, Shehrbano Taseer, 21, must stop speaking out against blasphemy laws.” He said,
”We read the statement of the slain governor’s daughter in a newspaper. She should refrain from issuing such statements and must remember her father’s fate,”
I had just met Sherherbano Taseer a day before I read the news. She was invited to the APPNA conference to speak about the radicalization of Pakistani society. One thing I noticed about her was that she really does not say a word against blasphemy laws. All she keeps on saying is that these laws are being misused to settle personal scores against each other in Pakistan. Many intellectuals living in USA have seen and experienced the freedom of speech, and criticize the law itself. And of course, then we have our real religious scholars who tell you to not kill anyone using our Prophet (pbuh)’s name since it gives the Prophet pbuh a bad name.
One almost want to blame the religion for turning people in to crazy killers. This is what I did initially. But then the Sialkot incident happened in which the whole village got together and tortured two young boys to death. They were shown on TV. Over and over again. Villagers had iron rods. They pushed iron rods in to young boys’ eyes. They removed Mugheez’s pants to hit on his sensitive parts, so it would hurt more. They literally crushed those boys and they made their faces unrecognizable pieces of minced meat.
Then the incident happened in which almost six Pakistani rangers got together and shot a young unarmed boy, and then let him bleed to death. Ah, the site of fresh flowing blood! Nothing better and exciting! And then of course the incident in Multan happened, in which a group of students beat a journalist to death while “protesting” for their rights of some sort.
Religion really was not involved in all these incidents mentioned above. I know what has happened to Pakistan. You would know too if you watched a movie called “The Crazies”.
If you have not seen the movie, please rent it tonight and watch it. In the movie, a virus was dropped over a town as a biochemical weapon. Whoever got infected with that virus became a crazy killer for no reason. People started killing their own families after getting infected with that virus. They loved the sight of fresh flowing red blood. They enjoyed stabbing iron rods through the living humans, just like the village people did to Mugheez and Muneeb.
Seems to me that a virus has infected people of Pakistan too in to being “The Crazies”.
And government and judiciary is incompetent. It’s the lack of rule of law. There is absolute anarchy in Pakistan and no one gets punished for their crimes. Law is unable to punish the killers. Rulers are unable to punish the killers. Shazia Masih’s killer, who tortured her to death, was found “not guilty”.
Muslims who burnt the Christians alive in Gojra were released due to the lack of evidence and witnesses. So, really, there is no reason for people to stop their behavior. I am surprised that killings are limited to only a few a week and people are not looting and killing each other constantly like they did during partition. And like they showed in the movie “The Crazies”
Once Crazies get infected with a virus like that, there is no way to stop them. They have to kill and be killed. It has to happen. Roads have to be red with blood. I would advise my younger Pakistani sister Shehrbano to stay away from the crazies though. Once Taseers and Asias are not there, Qadris would go after each other, and there would be nothing left but fresh flowing blood and shattered pieces of fresh human meat.
Shazia Nawaz MBBS, MD. (Allama Iqbal medical college , Lahore, Session 1998). Practicing medicine in USA now. A blogger, a columnist, a You Tube talk show host. Wants justice and equality for all.
Beyond the Deep State: Prospects of Pak India relations
by Omar Ali
A friend from “Critical PPP” asked for an article about the current crisis in Pakistan and got me thinking on the question: Is there something peculiar about the crisis in Pakistan or is it similar to all the other countries in South Asia, with the same problems of inequality, poverty, corruption, elite incompetence, poor governance, institutional decay and post colonial hangovers? I would submit that there is, and this peculiar problem is breaking the camel’s back. What is it? It is the ideological mindset of the “deep state” and it has brought us to the edge of disaster. This Is not a new insight, but I want to put it in terms that are usually avoided in the Pakistani media; Instead of presenting a history of the deep state and its pathologies, I will stand a mile behind the starting line and look far away at a hazy finish line: what I think the shape of a different Pakistan would be.
I think that a Pakistan that has managed to reorient its deep state from its current suicidal course may have some of the following features:
1. The state will accept that historically and culturally, we are “Western India”, not North-Eastern Arabia or some imaginary concoction whose defining feature is that it is kryptonite for anything Indian. Having accepted this, we will discover that far from pulling us back into the Indian state, Indian policymakers will spend their days trying to make sure we don’t come back home to mama and that we stay in our own apartment. We can visit anytime and we can use Mama’s name in some songs,movies, overseas grocery stores and restaurants, but she would much rather we stayed in our own pad.
2. The state will no longer spend every waking moments looking for good jihadis to go blow up India and every sleeping moment dreaming of sticking it to the Brahmans so good they will remember their Naani. In fact, the state will own up to the fact that our Naani is one and the same and both parties could use an occasional day remembering grandma and her glorious cooking. Freed up from the need to shelter every homicidal psychopath in the region, we may find other things to do. And of course, we will no longer have to worry about “good psychopaths” turning into “bad psychopaths” and explosively detonating in our own markets, shrines and mosques.
3. India will become our largest trading partner and we may become their 4th largest trading partner. Multiple scandals involving the disbursement of franchise licenses to TATA and Reliance will keep NAB busy for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, these interactions will generate real jobs, real industry, real money and real Bajaj motorbikes for every farmer. Transit trade to Afghanistan will enrich even more retired army officers than the number who have become millionaires hauling NATO supplies. Students by the thousands will flock across the border in either direction (admittedly, more may go East initially, but we too are an enterprising people and will find ways to correct the balance).
4. Kashmir will remain formally divided, but practically, will become one large pistachio and shawl manufacturing country. Large numbers of ex-servicemen from both countries will find employment in the various security companies that will protect the handicrafts business from extortionist jihadi gangs as they switch from being supported by Pakistani taxpayers to full time kidnap and robbery operations. Sikhs and Pakistani Punjabis will become so chummy in these security agencies, it will be an embarrassment.
5. River water treaties will be a cause of friction, but if we can make them work through 60 years of cold and hot wars, we can make them work through 60 years of cold and warm peace. Still, drastic development in agriculture and water-saving technologies will be needed as global warming wreaks havoc. No longer busy planning the next war, both overstaffed armies may find something to do maintaining order and fixing irrigation ditches.
6. Renewed cultural interaction and absence of GHQ and VHP instigated paranoia will lead to development of all regional languages and cultures in Pakistan. East Punjab will also see a deeper revival of Punjabi literature and arts and Delhi will become a more Punjabi city. Even Urdu may get off its deathbed once a better connection with the heartland in North India is restored. Who knows, Indian and Pakistani Muslims may even revive Islamic learning and turn it away from its current flat-line orientation into something more creative. Cricket will become a South Asian game with Australians occasionally allowed to win a match by the match-fixers. The film industry in India will import even more Punjabis and Pathans to star in “fair and lovely” ads and hundreds of musical geniuses will emerge in Faisalabad and Gojra and take the world by storm.
7. Pakistani political parties will increasingly resemble their Indian counterparts and both sides will exchange know-how about vote-buying and ballot-stuffing. At the upper end of the political scale, think tanks will gainfully employ bullshitters from both countries without distinction. Since our bullshitters know all about their problems and their bullshitters know all about ours, we can exploit the strengths of both parties. MQM will find much to do in the vast network of sleepy North Indian Muslim communities, where it’s sophisticated and battle hardened cadres will be a little bit like European adventurers used to be among Native Americans in the nineteenth century, but with the added advantage of being racially and linguistically the same people.
8. Chinese massage parlors will expand from Islamabad to all over India. So will Chinese Qingchi makers and duck egg salesmen. Memons and Marwaris will be given a run for their money by the Cantonese at the upper end of the business spectrum. Sindhi coal will fire up polluting power stations in Gujarat and Indian wind and solar manufacturers will sell their wares in Mekran.
And so on. It can happen. But someone will have to bring the deep state under adult supervision before it does.
Courtesy: – http://criticalppp.com/archives/25447
[Dear editor Indus Asia Online Journal, as you know that I am a Former President of National Students Federation Pakistan and a contributary Columnist in daily “Jang”. I have received a following letter from Mr. Rashid Gill and I am forwarding it as it is for people’s review. – Faheem Aamer]
August 21, 2009
Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, The Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan , Prime Minister House, Islamabad, Pakistan
Subject: Heinous Massacre of Christians in Gojra
On behalf of the church leadership and congregation, I would like to draw your kind attention to the heinous act of terror carried out by Muslim mobs against Christians living in the village of Korian and later in Gojra in district of Toba Tek Singh. According to the information received from independent sources like “The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan”, 7 Christians were burnt alive and more than 50 houses were ransacked, looted and torched by the Muslim mobs. According to the same details, the mobs were protesting against the desecration of “Holy Quran” at Chak No. 496 JB Korian near Gojra.
Gojra admin knew about pre-planned attacks: HRCP
Lahore – Press release, August 4: Last week’s attacks targeting the Christian community in Gojra were not a spontaneous reaction to allegations of blasphemy but were planned in advance, a fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has found.
Shameful attack on poor Christians
by: Iqbal Tareen, Washington, DC
August 2, 2009 – I condemn this barbaric attack on unarmed and peaceful Christian people of Pakistan. It is a shameful act, which reveals an alarming mindset emerging out of an Islamic extremism that has been brewing in Pakistan for decades especially after the advent of Zia era. Right wing political parties and state agencies have been busy perpetuating various internal and external hot spots to justify their consolidation of power and to divert attention from the real issues faced by 160 million peoples of Pakistan.
I urge progressive forces in Pakistan and around the world to become a formidable force and rise against the forces of hate and evil. Let us embrace diversity in Pakistan and create an environment where peoples of Pakistan are not judged by their color, nationality, ethnic background or a religious faith passed onto them by their ancestors just like a color of skin or a chattel.
Let us make Pakistan an inclusive country – a nation of many nations. Let us promote brotherhood and sisterhood, progressive people to stand like a shield of steel between the forces of pillage and destruction and the noble causes of 160 million innocent peoples of Pakistan who are yearning for peace, prosperity, individual and collective dignity, justice and democracy. The time has come to take politics out of the business of religion and religion out of the business of politics.