Tag Archives: Islamic

British-based bank: SCB runs second largest Islamic window in Pakistan

KARACHI: As many as 14 conventional banks in Pakistan offer Shariah-compliant banking services through separate Islamic windows. Although many of these 14 banks are foreign ones, Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan happens to be the only banking institution with a western pedigree and a truly global presence across five continents.

And yet, it runs the largest Islamic banking window in Pakistan, only after Bank Alfalah, with an 8% share in revenues, 8% share in advances and 4% share in deposits of the entire Islamic banking industry as of December 2012.

“We believe that the kind of expertise and Shariah scholars we have for Islamic banking is far better than other conventional banks,” said Azhar Aslam, who heads Islamic banking at Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan, while speaking to The Express Tribune in a recent interview.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/582899/british-based-bank-scb-runs-second-largest-islamic-window-in-pakistan/

Pakistani youth ‘cool on democracy’

 

More than half of those surveyed said democracy had not been good for them or the country

More Pakistani youth would prefer Islamic law or military rule than democracy, a survey suggests.

More than half of 5,000 18-29 year-old Pakistanis polled said democracy had not been good for them or the country.

Some 94% said Pakistan was going in the wrong direction, up from 50% in 2007, the British Council survey found.

Almost a third of registered voters in Pakistan are under 30 years old, and are expected to play a big part in a general election due in May.

When asked to pick the best political system, both Sharia and military rule were favoured over democracy.

The survey points towards a pessimistic generation, disenchanted with democracy after five years of civilian rule, says the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad.

Most of those surveyed had more faith in the army than any other institution.

Approval ratings for the military were about 70% compared with just 13% for the government.

Continue reading Pakistani youth ‘cool on democracy’

Sharia law comes to rebel-held areas of Syria. Western powers are facilitating the Jihadi takeover of yet another country.

Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria

ALEPPO, Syria — The evidence was incontrovertible, captured on video and posted on YouTube for all the world to see. During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.

And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe.

The beating administered last month offered a vivid illustration of the extent to which the Syrian revolution has strayed from its roots as a largely spontaneous uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. After mutating last year into a full-scale war, it is moving toward what appears to be an organized effort to institute Islamic law in areas that have fallen under rebel control.

Building on the reputation they have earned in recent months as the rebellion’s most accomplished fighters, Islamist units are seeking to assert their authority over civilian life, imposing Islamic codes and punishments and administering day-to-day matters such as divorce, marriage and vehicle licensing.

Numerous Islamist groups are involved, representing a wide spectrum of views. But, increasingly, the dominant role is falling to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States for suspected ties to al-Qaeda but is widely respected by many ordinary Syrians for its battlefield prowess and the assistance it has provided to needy civilians.

Across the northeastern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqah, where the rebels have been making rapid advances in recent weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken the lead both in the fighting and in setting out to replace toppled administrations. It has assumed control of bakeries and the distribution of flour and fuel, and in some instances it has sparked tensions with local fighters by trying to stop people from smoking in the streets.

Here in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, more than half of which has been under rebel control since July, Jabhat al-Nusra is also widely identified as the leading force behind the Hayaa al-Sharia, which loosely translates as the Sharia Authority and is known simply as the Hayaa.

Based out of the city’s former Eye Hospital, which was damaged during the fighting and then occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra as its headquarters, the Hayaa is also backed by other rebel units, including the Tawhid Brigade, the city’s biggest fighting force, and the Ahrar al-Sham, a homegrown Islamist force that has played a relatively minor role in Aleppo but is powerful in several other provinces.

Islamic administration

These days, the bomb-scarred former hospital has taken on the semblance of a wartime city hall, with people milling in and out seeking permits to carry a gun or transport fuel through checkpoints, complaining about neighbors, reporting thefts and informing on people suspected to be regime loyalists.

Courtesy: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-law-comes-to-rebel-held-syria/2013/03/19/b310532e-90af-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html

The Ingredients for a Glorious Pakistan

By Saeed Qureshi

Throughout its existence since August 14, 1947; Pakistan has perennially remained in troubled waters. From the anarchy of the initial years to the interspersing of democratic stints, to military dictatorships, it has been overshadowed by a constant threat of disintegration as a state. This disintegration came off in 1971 when its eastern part then known as East Pakistan was truncated.

While East Pakistan changed her nomenclature to Bangladesh, the West wing came to be known as Pakistan. It was a cataclysmic event that happened in contemporary history when a state dismembered barely 24 years after its birth and independence from the colonial rule.

All these years, Pakistan earned strictures such as a failed state, a country not viable to stay on the world map and a nation moving towards eventual extinction or another disintegration a la East Pakistan. Pakistani society is infested with myriad chronic problems that range from poor social and utility services to unstable or dysfunctional institutions and sway of reactionary cutthroat religious militants. The competent, efficacious, egalitarian and public welfare oriented governance has ever remained elusive.

Continue reading The Ingredients for a Glorious Pakistan

Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Was Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

By Saeed Qureshi

Was a country that came into being in the name of religion destined to be a theocracy in the longer run? And that is what exactly happened with Pakistan. Pakistan is awash with radicalism and fundamentalism. The religious militants have taken Pakistan hostage.

The sectarianism is assuming monstrous proportions and running amok with the social peace and stability of the country. The founders would have never imagined that in the state they are striving hard to create, the religious sects would slaughter in public view their opponents and still get away from justice.

The civil liberties in the Islamic state of Pakistan are fast disappearing. The national institutions like police, courts, municipalities, post offices, banks, schools, hospitals, water and power, transportation, taxation and revenue collection are in a state of continuous decay and dysfunction.

All these state building departments are infested with unremitting maladies of corruption, malfunctioning, red tape, disorder, and lawlessness. The visible progress that one can witness is the number of mosques growing; the religious traditional events celebrated every year with renewed passion and fanfare and sectarian vendettas escalating.

If this nascent country was supposed to be rampaged and taken over by bigots and religious reactionaries with no vision of civility and the need of a civil society, then better it was not created. The cut throats fundamentalists force the people to remain stuck up in the past, follow the rituals and then feel free to indulge in any conceivable villainy, wickedness, lawlessness and rioting.

Continue reading Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

A Pakistani soldier’s perspective

Drop in the Ocean – On whose side is Allah?

by Gen. Shahid Aziz

Published in The Nation, December 30, 2012.

Half-cocked measures never work. Public sentiments are echoed in slogans like ‘drone attacks must end’, ‘stop supporting Baloch separatism’, ‘Black Water and the likes must end terrorism in Pakistan’, ‘stop interfering in our domestic affairs’. But these are mere public appeasement proclamations, made in a manner not to offend our masters. The people, however, know that nothing short of a total breakaway from the US will end our plight. Half-cocked measures never work. And we cannot breakaway unless the current political order is replaced with something more dynamic. They have permeated to the very roots of this system and will control any change within it. This political carousel, irrespective of new players, will continue to remain compliant to US objectives. For any positive outcome, these shackles have to be entirely removed and a new citizen friendly order created; adjustments to fit ankle size will not reduce the pain.

Continue reading A Pakistani soldier’s perspective

Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

By Matthew Green and Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters): A month ago, Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was living quietly in Canada, immersed in the affairs of his Islamic charity and seemingly far removed from the pre-election power games shaping the fate of politicians in his native Pakistan.

In the past three weeks, he has returned home to lead a call for electoral reforms that has earned him instant celebrity, sent a stab of anxiety through the ruling class and raised fears of trouble at a planned rally in Islamabad on Monday.

“Our agenda is just democratic electoral reforms,” Qadri told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, the headquarters of his Minhaj-ul-Quran religious foundation. “We don’t want the law-breakers to become our lawmakers.”

Continue reading Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

By: Shivam Vij

In neighbouring Pakistan, an Islamic cleric recently accused a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, of blasphemy, a charge punishable by life imprisonment. He said she had burnt some pages that contained verses from the Quran. The 14 year old girl hails from a poor family and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. An eyewitness to the event showed courage and told a magistrate the truth: it was the Muslim cleric who had put those burnt pages in Rimsha’s bag. The cleric has been arrested and is set, in turn, to be charged with blasphemy.

I have been thinking about the incident. Insulting somebody’s religion is bad. It may cause offence. Often it is intended to cause offence. If somebody insults Islam, by doing things like burning pages containing verses from the Quran, it is bound to outrage a Muslim.But what happens when the Muslim has burnt those pages to implicate a Christian? Where does the outrage disappear? Why are the right-wingers and the mullahs in Pakistan suddenly silent? The cleric’s lawyer had threatened the judge that if the girl is let off she could be lynched – such was the outrage! Where has the outrage suddenly disappeared? Where are the calls for lynching the blasphemer to death?

And what does this hypocrisy tell us? It tells us that such outrage is, in the first place, fake.  That their religious sentiments weren’t really hurt when they said they were hurt. It was just that they wanted to persecute Christians and for doing so they were happy to commit blasphemy that they could then accuse Christians of doing!

What does that tell you of the claims of such people over how strong their religious, nationalist or whatever “sentiments” are?

I have noticed several such incidents in both Pakistan and India in the recent past. Let me give you a few examples.

Continue reading When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

Lawyers Seek Release of Pakistani Girl Charged With Blasphemy

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The fate of a Pakistani Christian girl at the center of a contentious blasphemy case hung in the balance on Tuesday, as lawyers applied for her release from jail and an influential Muslim cleric offered his support.

The Pakistani authorities have held the girl, Rimsha Masih, in a high-security jail since Aug. 16, when hundreds of Muslim protesters, angered over claims that she had burned pages from an Islamic holy book, surrounded a police station here in Islamabad to demand that she face prosecution.

Continue reading Lawyers Seek Release of Pakistani Girl Charged With Blasphemy

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

Israel and Pakistan

By IQBAL JAFAR

No two countries in the world are so close in their experience as a young nation and yet so far apart in their political compulsions as Israel and Pakistan.

To a lesser degree of uniqueness, these two countries have much to do with the questions of war and peace in the vast landmass from the Nile Valley to the Indus Valley, that once was a cradle of civilization, and could next be its graveyard. What happens in these two countries and between them and their neighbors should be of great interest for the international community.

Born only a few months apart, both on a Friday, Israel and Pakistan share an incredibly long list of other remarkable, even uncanny, commonalities.

Consider: both were carved out of a British colony; both were created in the name of religion by leaders who were secularists at heart; both were born as geographical oddities, Israel in three blocs and Pakistan in two; both saw large-scale exodus and immigration in the first year of their existence; both got involved in territorial disputes with their neighbors immediately after birth; both have borders that have yet to stabilize after more than six decades of existence.

Continue reading Israel and Pakistan

Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

Pakistani activists alarmed by threats to minorities

The US has said that it is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges. It also expressed satisfaction, however, about President Asif Ali Zardari’s action to probe the case.

On Monday, when Pakistani Muslims were busy celebrating the Islamic Eid festival, hundreds of Christian families living in the low-income Mehrabad neighborhood of the Pakistani capital Islamabad were forced to leave the homes where they had been living for more than two decades.

The Christians feared that they would be attacked by the majority Muslim community after Rimsha, a Christian girl aged between 10 and 13, allegedly burnt pages with the verses from the Koran inscribed on them. The incident took place last Thursday and Rimsha was later taken into custody by the Pakistani police.

The angry Muslims of the neighborhood, which is only a 20-minute drive from Western embassies in Islamabad, immediately demanded that she be punished for her “sin.”

According to some media reports, the girl was burning papers that she collected from a rubbish pile for cooking when some Muslims entered her house and accused her of burning the Islamic text. Pakistani officials have claimed the girl suffers from Down’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing major learning disabilities.

On Monday, the US State Department took serious note of the girl’s arrest. “This case is obviously deeply disturbing,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, adding that the US government was encouraged by President Zardari’s move to order the interior ministry to submit a report on the case.

“We think that the president’s statement is very welcome, and we urge the government of Pakistan to protect not just its religious minority citizens but also women and girls,” Nuland said.

Religious discrimination is widespread

Religious discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a new occurrence but it has increased considerably in recent years. Pakistan’s liberal sections are alarmed by the growing influence of right-wing Islamists in their country.

Rights activists complain that the Islamists enjoy state patronage, while on the other hand liberal and progressive voices have to face the wrath of the country’s security agencies.

Rights organizations also point out to the legal discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, which, in their opinion, is one the major causes of maltreatment of Pakistani minority groups.

President Zardari’s PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government has recently come under sharp criticism from the country’s rights organizations and the West for refusing to reform the anti-blasphemy laws despite the assassinations of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister, and Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab province.

Controversial anti-blasphemy laws

The two politicians were brutally murdered by Islamists in 2011 because they had dared to speak out against the controversial laws, which were introduced by the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Many rights activists say they have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes.

Farooq Sulehria, a London-based activist and journalist, told DW that they should be immediately repealed. “But I doubt that in the absence of a working-class struggle in Pakistan, any government will be forced to do it.”

Mohsin Sayeed, a journalist in Karachi, said the laws were “un-Islamic.”

“The anti-blasphemy laws should be abolished because they have nothing to do with Islam. We have been demanding their repeal for a long time. This demand has met with a fierce reaction from religious extremists, who are no more a marginalized group in Pakistan,” Sayeed told DW.

He also criticized the Pakistani judiciary for its alleged sympathetic behavior toward the right-wing. “Asia Bibi is still languishing in jail, while Mumtaz Qadri (Taseer’s assassin), is still alive,” he said.

‘Intolerance is becoming mainstream’

There have also been reports of hundreds of members of the Hindu community trading Pakistan for India, citing mistreatment, discrimination and persecution in their homeland as reasons.

Continue reading Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

“Intolerance is accepted-even rewarded in Pakistan’s mainstream media”

By Lauren Frayer

As Pakistan’s media has expanded in recent years, there’s been a rise in Islamic preachers with popular TV call-in talk shows. And they’ve had their share of scandal. One famous TV host fled the country after embezzlement allegations. Others are accused of spewing hate speech.

That’s the case for Pakistan’s most popular televangelist, Aamir Liaquat, who’s just been rehired by the country’s top TV channel despite accusations that he provoked deadly attacks in 2008.

Liaquat, 41, is once again the face of Pakistan’s biggest and richest private TV station, Geo TV. He also appears in commercials for everything from cooking oil to an Islamic bank. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he’s been broadcasting live 11 hours a day — while fasting — and drawing record ratings.

“I say peace be with you, from the deepest core of my heart, with all sincerity and respect,” he says warmly to viewers.

But the beaming TV personality has not always sounded so benign.

Four years ago, Liaquat did an hourlong special on a religious sect known as the Ahmadis. They consider themselves Muslim. But under a constitutional amendment in Pakistan, they are banned from calling themselves Muslim.

They believe in the Prophet Muhammad. But they also believe in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th-century figure they believe was the messiah. Many Muslims call that blasphemy. On live TV in 2008, Liaquat condemned the Ahmadis’ messiah. “He was like a dead body in terms of morality and character,” Liaquat said. “He never spoke the truth and never kept his promises. He was a coward. His speech and writings make me vomit.” Then he sat nodding in approval while a guest mullah said people like the Ahmadis’ messiah should be killed. “Anyone who claims to be a prophet is an infidel, and deserves to be murdered,” Maulana Muhammad Ameen said.

A Surge In Targeted Killings

Since that broadcast, violence has left hundreds of Ahmadis dead. Ahmadi Najm’s husband — a pediatrician with his own clinic — was one of them. “It was the 17th of August, 2010,” Najm recalls. “He was closing his clinic, and had just started his car, and they came — some unknown people. They fired. At the spot, he was dead. He got about 30 bullets in his chest.” The 33-year-old widow speaks from a safe house in Karachi, where Ahmadis hide during bouts of violence against them. Behind a padlocked door, Najm and her three children huddle together. Her baby girl was just 2 1/2 months old when her father was killed.

Continue reading “Intolerance is accepted-even rewarded in Pakistan’s mainstream media”

Our doomed democracy

By: Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan’s gradual alienation from democracy and its irreducible secular conditionality is owed to the growth of the idea of Islamic governance, today showcased by the Taliban

Pakistan follows the rest of the Muslim world in thinking about the state. There was a time when it was normal for a Pakistani to say that he was a Pakistani first; now he says he is a Muslim first, little realising that he was negating the modern state. Most of the states in the Muslim world began as modern states but are now on the brink of choosing a pre-modern order that is stranger to democracy. Egypt that leads the Muslims of the world intellectually now manifests the following symptoms:

Democracy as ‘tyranny of the majority’:

1) On the role of religion in government, 61 percent of Egyptians chose Saudi Arabia as the preferred model.

2) Asked whether Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Quran, 60 percent said yes while 32 percent said it should follow the values and principles of Islam and only six percent said laws should not be influenced by the teachings of the Quran.

3) The survey found that 61 percent of Egyptians want to diplomatically de-recognise Israel, while only 32 percent think it should be recognised. The feeling against Israel has surged among the youth.

Another poll found that 52 percent of Pakistanis too wanted sharia and desired an increased role of religion in their lives. Pakistan’s wealth is in the hands of a conservative elite which controls the media. Once upon a time the state TV was extreme in its Islamic tilt; now PTV is moderate compared to the ‘free’ TV channels numbering nearly 80. A new book Radicalisation in Pakistan by Muhammad Amir Rana & Safdar Sial (Narratives 2012) tells us on the basis polls that 87 percent of the journalists think that radical elements ‘have an effect’ on the media. You don’t have to read John Stuart Mill to conclude that Muslims demand democracy to impose ‘the tyranny of the majority’ on their societies.

Urdu and conservatism:

Conservatism in traditionally tolerant Muslim societies has morphed into fundamentalism threatening enough to cause three categories of Muslims to shut up: secularists, liberals and the moderate. The nation in Pakistan is weaning itself from the bilingual ambience of the past despite an increasing trend in the private sector to employ persons proficient in the use of English language.

Urdu is the vehicle of Islamist view. Pakistan is moving towards the status of a single-language country because of the ouster of English-language TV channels. Most graduates from universities are less able to use English and tend to be conservative if not Islamist in their aggressive rejection of secularists and moderates. This trend is shockingly clear in the social media. Some analysts are frank enough to say that the youth that dominates the social media – facebook, youtube, twitter, etc – will threaten the modern state in the Muslim world.

Radical assault on social media:

Continue reading Our doomed democracy

Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

. Mumbai Terror Attack Group Lashkar e Tayyiba Now More Dangerous Than Al Qaeda

With the 9/11 terrorist group on the ropes, the organization that masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks has become the world’s most dangerous, says Bruce Riedel.

By Bruce Riedel

The arrest of Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jindal, at New Delhi airport late last month is a major breakthrough in the investigation of the deadliest terror attack in the world since 9/11. Abu Jindal was one of the masterminds of the November 2008 attack on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed, including six Americans. He is already confessing to his role and implicating Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate directly in controlling the attack as it went down.

The November 2008 attack by ten Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT) terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai, India was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11. It marked the maturation of LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of al Qaeda: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India. LeT used cell phones and GPS technology to terrorize an entire city and grab global attention for three days. LeT’s masterminds ran the operation in real time from a headquarters in Pakistan, even issuing death sentences to innocents.

Abu Jindal, an Indian citizen traveling with a Pakistani passport, was in the control room in Karachi in 2008 talking on the phone to the ten terrorists. He gave them advice on where to look for more victims in the Taj Hotel, for example, and instructed them when to murder their hostages. His voice was recorded by the Indian authorities listening in on the phone calls and has since been replayed in chilling detail by the Indian police for all to hear.

According to press reports from India, Jindal was arrested on June 21 after being deported from Saudi Arabia to India. The arrest operation was a joint counter-terrorism effort by India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Abu Jindal was in the Kingdom recruiting and training new LeT volunteers from the enormous Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries. He was allegedly in the final stages of a “massive” new terror plot. Abu Jindal has also been linked to other attacks in India including the bombing of the Mumbai metro and train system in 2006 that killed over 180.

Abu Jindal has told the Indians that two members of the ISI were also in the control room, both allegedly majors in the Pakistani army. This confirms the longstanding accusation that the 2008 plot was orchestrated and conducted with the assistance of the ISI. An American, David Headley, who worked for LeT and did the reconnaissance for the attack has said the same thing. So has the only survivor of the attack force, Amir Kasab, who has been convicted of mass murder in India.

But because Abu Jindal was actually in the control room in Karachi his accusation is even more powerful. If the press reports about Abu Jindal’s accusations are confirmed then the ISI was involved directly in the decision to murder Americans. So far the Indian government has publicly confirmed only that his testimony points to state sponsorship of the attack without providing details of his confessions.

Continue reading Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

Pakistan’s National College of Art’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pak college’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pakistan’s first arts college’s editorial board has been dissolved and two other departments have been closed, weeks after the institution’s annual journal was accused of publishing material that supported homosexuality and ridiculed Islamic values.

The architecture and research and publication departments of the National College of Arts in Lahore have been closed while the director for research and publication, Sarosh Irfani, has been suspended.

Following complaints about the inclusion of some paintings and a feature in the annual journal Sohbat, the college’s editorial board too has been dissolved.

The principal of the NCA, Sajjad Kausar, and some other staff are facing charges of blasphemy, official sources told PTI.

With extremist and hardline religious parties, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, calling for stringent action against those responsible for publishing “blasphemous materials” in the journal, the college’s administration, including the Principal, are feeling insecure, the sources said.

“I have dissolved the editorial board, closed down the research and publication and architecture wings and suspended the director for research and publication,” Kausar told reporters.

He said a ban had been imposed on the publication of Sohbat for an indefinite period. ….

Read more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Pakistan/Pak-college-s-editorial-board-dissolved-over-blasphemy-row/Article1-881693.aspx

Everything you always wanted to know about Jinns..

By: Omar Ali

Musharraf Farooqi has a great article up at Lapham’s quarterly about Jinns and their various proclivities. A must read.

“ ….Encounters between the parties were not uncommon. One trait commonly ascribed to jinn is the desire to copulate with humans. Male jinn liked it so much that sometimes they would try and surreptitiously join in during sex between human men and women. One man witnessed his wife’s vagina emitting flames from a jinn making congress with her while she slept. And such interspecies unions bore fruit. When a child was born from a coupling between humans and jinn, it was termed khunnas. One born from a union between humans and demons was called amluq. Humans were less likely to pursue jinn, however, particularly females, as they were reputed to have violent tempers. One man who had married a jinn female received a good thrashing with a camel bone at her hands before she left him…”

Musharraf Ali Farooqi has also translated Dastan Amir Hamza into English (its a very good translation, btw, I have it and its tremendous fun to read in the toilet). He has also started on Tilsim e Hoshruba. (he also wrote a novel recently that I have not yet read).

Aamer Ahmed Khan (who replaced Mohammed Hanif as head of BBC Urdu)  tried to start a series of Tilsim E Hoshruba comics in Lahore, but these ideas seem to whither and die in Pakistan. After the “Islamic welfare state” deal is finally done with, maybe some remaining people  will rediscover the real treasures of medieval Islamicate culture (Jinns, Arabian Nights, Tilsim e Hoshruba) and make comics and video games and movies out of them in the land of the Indus man (for now, it seems they do it best once they get out); all sorts of creative possibilities exist…

My theory is that all these creative possibilities tend to get overwhelmed in Pakistan (the actual Pakistan, not the imaginary one..hint hint, wink wink) because we need Jinns to produce literal rather than metaphorical electricity.

Continue reading Everything you always wanted to know about Jinns..

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

What’s Wrong with Pakistan?

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.

Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

Islamic militants fighting Indian forces in Kashmir will declare war on Pakistan if it weakens its traditional support for their jihad, their senior leader has warned.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

Syed Salahuddin, leader of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of Kashmiri militant groups which includes the Lashkar e Taiba, said they had been fighting “Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” but Islamabad now cares more about trade than jihad.

“We (militants) are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan,” he said in an interview with the Arab News.

His threat emerged as India and Pakistan’s leaders prepare for talks in Islamabad on Monday on proposals to withdraw their troops from the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield close to the Line of Control which divides Kashmir.

Salahuddin and other Kashmiri militant leaders fear Pakistan’s leaders will withdraw its long-standing support for the military strikes against Indian forces in Kashmir as part of its diplomatic campaign to reduce trade barriers and ease movement between the old enemies.

Pakistan’s readiness to grant ‘Most-Favoured Nation’ trading status to India and the opening of new ‘cross-border’ trade routes in Kashmir had sent a message to insurgent leaders like his Hizbul Mujahideen that “Pakistan wants business with India.” Pakistan has long used group’s like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar e Toiba as part of its proxy war with India over control of Kashmir, with military protection for their training camps in ‘Azad’ or ‘Free’ Kashmir.

Continue reading Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

China urges Pakistan to act against East Turkistan Islamic Movement militants: Report

China has urged Pakistan to take effective measures to stop the activities of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM) militants present in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), reported BBC Urdu on Thursday.

According to the report, the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi currently visiting Pakistan said that it was their belief that militants belonging to the TIM are influencing the Chinese province Xinjiang, which has a Muslim majority population.

Xinjiang, which is home to the Uighur Muslims, has faced increased terrorist activities in recent years, inviting a crackdown by Chinese forces. The restive province which shares a border with Pakistan, has been under heavy security since July 2009, when the Uighurs launched attacks on Han people in the regional capital Urumqi.

Sources within the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on condition of anonymity, told BBC that Chinese officials discussed the matter with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari along with other officials during several meetings, where the Pakistani foreign secretary was also summoned.

The BBC Urdu report added that most of those belonging to the TIM have taken refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas, from where they cross the border into China after receiving training.

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Why Pakistan interferes in Afghanistan

By: Nitin Pai

A strong, independent Afghanistan is perceived as an existential threat to Pakistan

Just why is Pakistan interested in installing a friendly regime in Afghanistan? If you read books and articles written over the last couple of decades, you will come across arguments such as the need for “strategic depth” to counter India, to prevent a pro-India regime in Kabul that will result in the Indian encircling of Pakistan and, even more grandly, to create an Islamic centre of power that stretches from the shores of the Arabian Sea to the Caucasus mountains. Going by the statements of members of the Pakistani establishment and some of its commentators, these are indeed the reasons why Pakistan wants to dominate Afghanistan.

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Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns & bombs

Lal Masjid: rewarding an insurrection

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan says he is losing patience with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In a court-initiated (suo motu) action, he wants a quick rebuilding of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, flattened by bulldozers in 2007, after it became the centre of an insurgency. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the CJ, is now dragging procrastinators over the coals by issuing notices to the CDA chairman, Islamabad’s chief commissioner and the interior secretary. The Court has also expressed its “displeasure” over the status of police cases against the Lal Masjid clerics and ordered the deputy attorney general to appear before it next week.

It is dangerous to comment on Pakistan’s highest level of judiciary. So let me solemnly declare that the highest wisdom must lie behind this extraordinary judicial activism. Nevertheless, I must confess my puzzlement because — as was seen by all — Lal Masjid and the adjoining Jamia Hafsa had engaged in a full-scale bloody insurrection against the Pakistani government, state, and public. Hundreds died. That those who led the insurrection should be gifted 20 kanals of the choicest land in sector H-11 of Islamabad is, I think, slightly odd.

Such thoughts crossed my mind last week when a flat tyre occasioned me to walk along the outer periphery of the freshly-painted and rebuilt Red Mosque. I momentarily stopped to read a large wind and rain-weathered monument which, placed on the government-owned land that Jamia Hafsa once stood upon, declares (in Urdu) that “The sacred Islamic worship place here was destroyed by a tyrannical ruler to prevent Sharia from becoming the law”.

The story of the insurrection and its tragic end is well-known. In early January 2007, the Lal Masjid had demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally-constructed mosques that had been knocked down by the CDA. Days later, an immediate enforcement of the Sharia system in Islamabad was demanded. Thereafter, armed vigilante groups from this madrassa roamed the streets and bazaars. They kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, and repeated the demands of the Taliban and other tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an FM broadcast, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

Lal Masjid was headed by two clerics, the brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi. They had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Muhammad. Also on April 12 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of my university, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the Hereafter for such women.”

For months, unhindered by General Musharraf’s government, the Lal Masjid operated a parallel government that was barely a mile or two away from the presidency and parliament. Its minions ran an unlicenced FM radio station, occupied a government building, set up a parallel system of justice, made bonfires out of seized cassettes and CDs, received the Saudi Arabian ambassador on the mosque premises, and negotiated with the Chinese ambassador for the release of his country’s kidnapped nationals. But for the subsequent outrage expressed by Pakistan’s all-weather ally, the status quo would have continued indefinitely.

Nevertheless, our courts say that they cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing during the entire six-month long saga. They say there are no witnesses or acceptable evidence. Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan (his wife, who heads Jamia Hafsa), therefore, stand exonerated. Also lacking, they say, is proof that the Lal Masjid accused possessed heavy weaponry.

But Islamabad’s residents know better. When the showdown came in July 2007, machine guns chattered away as mortars and rocket launchers exchanged their deadly fire. Copious TV coverage shows armed madrassa students putting on gas masks to avoid the dense smoke. The final push left 10 of Pakistan’s crack SSG commandos dead, together with scores of defenders. A tidal wave of suicide attacks — as promised by the clerics — promptly followed.

Some speculate that the land gifted to Aziz and Hassan is actually the price for keeping hornets inside their nest. This is not impossible because suicide bomb attacks inside Pakistan’s major cities have decreased dramatically in the last two years. The authorities claim credit, saying the reason is better intelligence about violent groups and better policing. But anyone driving through Islamabad knows how trivially easy it is to conceal weapons and explosives; the security measures are certainly a nuisance to citizens but hopelessly ineffective otherwise. So, could the H-11 land offer be part of a much wider peace deal with various militant groups?

The temptation to make deals has grown after the battle for Lal Masjid. It is clear who won and who lost. Even as they fought tooth and nail against the Pakistan Army, the madrassa clerics were never dismissed and continued to receive their full government salaries. On the other hand, General Musharraf — who acted only after things went out of control — now sulks in exile. All madrassa curriculum reform plans are dead; the government does not talk about them anymore — let the clerics teach what they want.

Appeasement is the hallmark of a weak state and dithering leadership. Once again, Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns and bombs. For a country alleged to have the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal, this is surely ironical.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/381761/lal-masjid-rewarding-an-insurrection/

Heavily armed jihadi groups clash in Pakistan: 5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival Islamic militants

5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups

Firefight between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam began when latter’s fighters attacked stronghold of LI militants.

PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed and five others were injured when clashes erupted between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency.

According to locals, the firefight between the two groups began in the early hours of Monday when fighters of AI attacked Sanda Pal, a stronghold of LI militants.

They claimed that four militants of the Mangal Bagh-led LI had been killed and two were injured, while one fighter of AI was killed and three were injured.

Clashes between the two groups occur frequently as AI fights the LI to gain control of the area.

According to sources, heavy weapons were used in the fight and AI fighters took control of a number of small outposts to reach Sanda Pal – the main outpost.

Residents living in the secluded valley have little communication with the world.

The area has been under the influence of militants, including the LI, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansarul Islam, who have consistently targeted each other over territorial disputes and sectarian differences.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Via – Twitter » TF’s Tweet

The Punjabi hegemony on Pakistan

The Punjabi hegemony

By Raza Habib Raja

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at its creation, there were two large sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping movements. The first was primarily centred around Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims, nevertheless did not have that strong separatist thrust at least in the beginning.

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Pakistan’s leading intellectual, Prof. Parvez Hoodbhoy on the rise of jihadi terrorism and its acceptance in Pakistan

Courtesy: News Click In » via – Twitter (TF’s tweet)

Pakistan Entrapped

Islamic Radicalism: Pakistan Entrapped in A Vicious Circle of Militancy and Cowardice of the State

By Mujahid Husain

Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants have once again started attacking Pakistan, this time in a much organised manner. It was being said, after the successful military operations in tribal areas that Taliban and Al-Qaeda sympathizers have been chased away. But the reality is totally opposite to it. Indeed it is the Local and foreign militants who have driven away security forces and other peace-promoting organisations from there.

Militants are now focussing their attention on the suburbs of big towns and hamlets. They are easily making them their prey. Their successful operation of getting hundreds of dreaded inmates flee from Bannu jail, situated in the tribal area, is the latest example of their prowess. Adnan Rashid one of the most wanted and a dreaded attacker on the life of former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was one of them. He was greeted with garlands in the jail campus by the attackers of the Bannu Jail. Garlands were specially brought for him by the miscreants. This incident proves militants’ planning, strength and their self confidence.

Taliban attackers kept celebrating their victory for two hours in the jail campus itself. In the meantime the police station and security forces of Bannu town kept themselves silently locked in their offices. They dare not try to interfere in the operation of the militant attackers.

After the jail break incident a private school of Peshawar came under their wrath. The school was attacked with hand grenades in which children were killed.

State government finds itself helpless in front of the terror organisation called ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ which is active in the suburbs of Peshawar.

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Saving Pakistan via India

Saving Pakistan… and India?

by Omar Ali

Pakistan is in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan has always been in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan’s interminable existential crisis is, in fact, getting to be a bore.  But while faraway peoples can indeed get away from this topic and on to something more interesting, Pakistanis have little choice in this matter; and it may be that neither do Indians.

The partition of British India was different things to different people, but we can all agree on some things: it was a confused mess, it was accompanied by remarkable violence and viciousness,  and it has led to endless trouble. The Paknationalist narrative built on that foundation has Jihadized the Pakistani state, and defanging that myth is now the most critical historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie.

Well, OK. We don’t actually all admit any of those things, but all those are things I have written in the past. Today I hope to shed my inhibitions and go further.

First, the crisis. Some friends think I am being unnecessarily alarmist and the only crisis is the presence of American infidels/imperialists in the region. Let America leave and all will be well. Others believe that if the army had a “free hand”, they would have things under control within days.  Let us dispense with both theories. The crisis is not primarily American generated (though they have a long and glorious history of feeding dollars to the crisis) and no one is in complete control.  The existing corruption-ridden state is a British colonial creation struggling to get by alongside an unstable mix of Islamist ideology and a very shallow and self-contradictory foundational myth. Even though the karma of the Raj is potent stuff, it will not last forever against these forces. When it goes, the next step will not be the dawn of Chomskyan enlightened anarchy or democratic socialism; it will either be Salafist Islam or the dissolution of the state. Dissolution being physically and diplomatically difficult (who will handle the scramble over borders that would follow?), Salafist Islam administered by the army (perhaps with a charismatic cricketer as its public face) is the likely option.

Unfortunately, it is not likely to work very well. In fact, it is incapable of sustaining even the bare minimum of modern statehood. Unlike Iranian Islam (which is literate, modern and sophisticated compared to Salafist fantasies) there is no there there.  A militarized salafist Pakistan may hold together a few years in the name of war against the infidels, but after the war (and who wants a war that could go nuclear?) we are left with little more than the vague notion of a rightly guided caliph, the whipping of uppity women and the accelerated cleansing of undesirable smaller sects. After all, if you have a religious state, then you cannot have ten different interpretations of religion (not to speak of ten different religions). Which vision is in charge has to be clear. The state must enforce religious uniformity or become secular. There is no third option.  One can see this principle in operation in Pakistan ever since General Zia started Islamizing in earnest.  Ahmedis were already beyond the pale, but Shias, a sect that provided the founder of Pakistan and were an integral part of Pakistan, now face the prospect of second class citizenship or worse. If you happen to believe in the Salafist project you may find this a desirable endpoint, but everyone else will want to stop this process and reverse it if possible.

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“If a person has sex with a cow, a sheep or a camel … drinking their milk will be unlawful.”

Sex and the Single Mullah

Islamic scholars are prepared to answer questions and issue fatwas on almost any realm of modern life. Sometimes, it can get a little kinky.

BY JOSHUA E. KEATING

As Karim Sadjadpour recounts in his new article for Foreign Policy, an obscure cleric known as Ayatollah Gilani had a popular television show in the early days of the Iranian revolution during which he would opine upon the halal or haram status of various outlandish scenarios. His best-remembered went like this:

Imagine you are a young man sleeping in your bedroom. In the bedroom directly below, your aunt lies asleep. Now imagine that an earthquake happens that collapses your floor, causing you to fall directly on top of her. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’re both nude, and you’re erect, and you land with such perfect precision on top of her that you unintentionally achieve intercourse. Is the child of such an encounter halalzadeh (legitimate) or haramzadeh (a bastard)?

(It’s halalzadeh in case you were wondering.) ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

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Apex Court of Pakistan Judges or Islamic Clerics in enforcedly converted Hindu and Christian girls’ case

Islamabad: April 18, 2012. (PCP) Eyes of Human right activists around globe were on Supreme Court of Pakistan hearing of a case today of forced conversion of Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari and others to Islam but unfortunately Division Bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan not bothered to listen victimized girls and ordered police to present them before Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan to record their statement and to go with parents or with Muslim husbands.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvezhad ordered to send Hindu women Rinkle Kumari, Dr. Lata and Asha Kumari to Shelter in last hearing on March 26, 2012, when they were crying “We want to go with our parents and begged that their life is in danger”

It surprised Human Right activists that why Judges ordered to send Hindu women in Shelter when in camera session and later in open court hearing of March 26, 2012, they begged Division Bench Judges to allow them to go with their parents?

It was already feared that in Shelters the Hindu girls will be threatened and blocked to unite with their families.

In today’s hearing by SC Bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary not permitted to speak victim Hindu girls but gave them in police custody to record their statement with registrar.

The Three Hindu women in police custody who were all Muslim women and men police officer walked to the Registrar office of Supreme Court of Pakistan and under police presence expressed their consent to go with their Muslim husbands.

The forced converted Hindu girls were in Shelter for three weeks where all staff was Muslim, the officer who escorted them from Shelter to Supreme Court building were all Muslims and to office of Registrar escorting officers were also all Muslims.

How a Muslim cannot put pressure on a convert to Islam who has openly demanded to go with her Hindu Parents when a Muslim has religious faith that to convert to infidels is their ticket to heaven? The Supreme Court of Pakistan Judges as a Muslim also were aware of such belief of Muslims as citizens of Islamic Republic of Pakistan but not bothered to hold open court hearing or camera session on hearing of April 18, 2012, and ordered a Muslim Registrar of Supreme Court of Pakistan to record their statements.

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