Tag Archives: Lahore

Naheed Akhtar to perform after two decades

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LAHORE, May 31: Famous for her voice range and often credited for her versatility, yore years’ playback singer Naheed Akhtar will perform after 22 years at Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall, on June 8.

The singer, who gave up professional singing in 1991, will be awarded Alhamra Excellence Award on the occasion.

She used to be a household name from the 70s to the 90s. Famous TV host and actress Ayesha Sana will interview Ms Akhtar at the evening while Hamid Ali Khan, Shabnam Majeed and Saima Jahan will sing the popular film songs sung by the singer.

Videos of her film songs and those she sang on television will also be screened. There will also be a few performances on some of her songs by film and TV artistes.

A number of known film artistes, music composers, lyrists and other guests are invited to the occasion.

The credit for bringing to stage Akhtar after so many years directly goes to the council for its officials made repeated requests to the singer for a public appearance.

LAC Deputy Director Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi told Dawn that after repeated requests the singer finally got convinced for a public appearance and a performance.

He said since Akhtar belonged to the league of such singers who were thoroughly professional therefore she had several meetings with Alhamra officials to finalise the list of songs to be sung and performed. He said: “These days she is doing rehearsals for the songs she is going to sing at the evening.”

Ms Akhtar was discovered by veteran musician M Ashraf in the mid-70s and replaced Runa Laila. Her debut film was ‘Nanha Farishta’ in 1974 and that year she sang songs in the film Shama also.

As a singer, she was brilliant in fast tracks, sad songs and ghazals as well.

Melodies such as ‘Piyar Kabhi Karna Na’ and ‘Yeh Aaj Mujko Kia Hua, and ‘Kisi Meherbaan Nay Aa Ke Meri Zindigi Saja Dee’ gave her immense popularity. The song ‘Meherbaan’ was a huge landmark in her singing.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/06/01/naheed-akhtar-to-perform-after-two-decades/

PPP downfall: Aitzaz Ahsan resigns from Senate

LAHORE: Senior Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan announced his resignation from the Senate, reported Express News on Tuesday.

After announcing his resignation from the senate, Aitzaz Ahsan said that the resignation should be accepted and the rest of the decisions were in the hands of the party.

Aitzaz Ahsan’s wife, Bushra Aitzaz contested and lost elections from the NA-124 constituency against Rohale Asghar, a candidate from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

According to Aitzaz Ahsan, voting results were bizarre as some polling stations had recorded a 150% voter turnout.

Results given by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should be reviewed, he added.

Wattoo resigns

Similarly Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, president of PPP’s central Punjab chapter submitted a letter of resignation to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, accepting failure in delivering his duties.

In the letter addressed to Bilawal, Wattoo listed the problems of water and electricity scarcity, economic instability and media trials as the reasons for defeat.

Other PPP resignations

Sherry Rehman also resigned from her post as the Ambassador the US in a letter to the caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Tuesday.

Continue reading PPP downfall: Aitzaz Ahsan resigns from Senate

Sarabjit Singh dies at Pakistan’s Jinnah hospital

LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD: Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died in a Lahore hospital late on Wednesday night after being comatose for six days following a brutal assault by other inmates of a high-security jail, officials said.

“I received a call from the doctor on duty (at Jinnah Hospital) at 1 am (1:30 IST) informing me that Sarabjit is no more,” Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a medical board that was supervising Sarabjit’s treatment, said.

Officials of the Indian high commission in Islamabad said they had been informed by officials of Jinnah Hospital about Sarabjit’s death.

Shaukat said authorities were yet to decide on conducting an autopsy of Sarabjit’s body.

Asked whether the autopsy would be done after getting permission from the government, he said: “At the moment I have no idea.”

No decision had been made about handing over the body to Sarabjit’s kin or to Indian authorities, he said.

“These matters will be worked out according to the directions from the government,” he said.

Earlier in the day, official sources in Lahore had said Sarabjit had slipped into a “non-reversible” coma and this could lead to “brain death”.

His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person’s central nervous system, had dropped to a “critical level”, the sources said.

Sarabjit’s heart was beating “but without brain function” because of the extensive head injuries he sustained when he was assaulted on Friday, a source said.

Sarabjit was completely unresponsive and unable to breathe without ventilator support.

Continue reading Sarabjit Singh dies at Pakistan’s Jinnah hospital

Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

MIRANSHAH: In a letter to the media, leader of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that his group is focused on jeopardising democracy by hindering elections in the country.

“We have succeeded politically after we were asked to negotiate by the government,” said Hakimullah Mehsud.

He added that the group was now solely ‘focused’ on the next elections.

As elections are nearing, TTP’s aim would be to “end the democratic system,” the letter further said. Mehsud also urged TTP militants to target senior politicians and party leaders, while continuing the battle against security forces.

Furthermore, in a rare address from an undisclosed location, the militant chief claimed that the TTP was not just fighting a war on a tactical level, but were also able to ‘subdue’ politicians by making them negotiate.

TTP student union

A student union of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was traced by the police while three of its members splashed posters and banners around Multan.

The publicity material was scripted with inflammatory messages, encouraging people to not vote in elections as democracy was ‘un-Islamic’. It demanded that the people of Pakistan should adhere to the shariah (Islamic law), and said that it was haraam for them to participate in the voting process.

Police claim that the three members were students belonged to Lahore, but were enrolled at the Bahauddin Zakarriya University in Multan. After posting 50 banners in the urban area, they were putting posters on the walls of the Multan press club when they were caught by the journalists.

Continue reading Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

Muslim mob targets Christian locality in Gujranwala ‘for disrespecting Islam’

LAHORE – In a renewed attack on minorities, a violent Muslim mob attacked a Christian locality in Gujranwala on Wednesday, damaging shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the local Christians following a clash between the youths of the two communities last night, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to initial information, a group of Christian boys was snubbed by a local cleric for playing music on their cell phones while passing by a mosque on Tuesday evening.

“Our boys were passing the mosque when the prayer leader objected to their playing music on cell phones. The boys turned off the music at that moment but switched it on again after covering some distance. The cleric raised a clamour and accused the boys of showing disrespect to Islam. As word spread of the incident, we immediately went to the police post in our colony and shared our security concerns with them. The police told us not to worry and assured us that they would contain the situation but no measures were taken,” Pervaiz, a resident of Francis Colony in Gujranwala, told Pakistan Today.

Continue reading Muslim mob targets Christian locality in Gujranwala ‘for disrespecting Islam’

Committee agrees on Najam Sethi as Punjab caretaker CM

LAHORE: The parliamentary committee of the Punjab Assembly has agreed on veteran journalist Najam Sethi as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab province, committee head Rana Sanaullah announced Tuesday.

“We have selected Najam Sethi, an opposition candidate, for the post of caretaker chief minister of Punjab,” Sanaullah, told reporters in Lahore.

Sethi has earlier served as a federal minister in the caretaker set-up led by Malik Meraj Khalid in 1996.

Continue reading Committee agrees on Najam Sethi as Punjab caretaker CM

Humorously close to reality!

Daddy?

Yes, son.

Are we going to have a war with India?

Perhaps.

Oh, goody. We will thrash them, right? Like we did in 1857!

It wasn’t in 1857, son.

Oh, okay. But whom did we thrash in 1857?

The British, son…

And the Hindus too, right?

Well…

Did Quaid-i-Azam fight in that war along with Muhammad bin Qasim and Imran Khan?

No, son. The Quaid and Imran were born much later and Muhammad bin Qasim died many years before.

Then who ruled Pakistan in those days?

There was no Pakistan in those days, son.

But there was always a Pakistan! It has been there for 5,000 years!

Who have you been talking to, son?

No one. I’ve just been watching TV.

It figures.

Daddy, why are all these people against us Arabs?

Arabs? But we aren’t Arabs, son.

Of course we are because our ancestors were Arabs!

No, son. Our ancestors were of the subcontinental stock.

Sub-what?

Never mind.You seem to like wars, son.

Yes. I like to watch them on TV.

But real wars are fought outside the TV, son.

Really? How is that possible? What sort of a war is that?

Never mind.

Daddy, you look worried.

Of course, I am, you little warmongering punk!

Daddy! Why are you scolding me?

Because TV is talking rot and so are you!

Daddy, are you supporting Hindus?

No!

Daddy, have you become a kafir?

Keep quiet! No more TV for you! Go watch a movie on DVD or listen to a CD.

Can’t do that.

But we have so many DVDs and CDs, son.

Not any more.

What do you mean?

I burned them all.

What?!

I burned them all.

I heard that! But why?

They spread obscenity.

Oh, God. Son, go do your homework. What happened to that science project you were working on?

It’s almost complete.

Good boy. What are you making?

A bomb.

What?!

A bomb.

I heard that! But why?

Because I am a true Muslim who hates America.

But only last week you wanted to go to Disney Land.

That’s different.

How come?

Mickey Mouse is Muslim.

No, he isn’t.

Is so. He converted when he heard azaan on the moon.

On the moon?

Yes. Because the earth is flat and…

What??

The earth is…

I heard that!

Daddy, do you want to see my science project, or not?

Gosh, that bomb? But your science teacher will fail you.

No, she wont.

Really?

Yes. I plan to blow her up as well.

God, what is wrong with you? Go call your mother!

She can’t come.

Why not?

I’ve locked her in the kitchen.

But what for?

A woman’s place is in the kitchen. I will not let her out until she covers herself up peoperly!

But she’s your mother!

She’s also a woman!

So?

So she should be hidden.

Hidden from whom?

The whole world and Tony.

Tony?

Yes, Tony.

But Tony’s a cat.

Yes. But he’s male.

Son, have you gone mad?

No. By the way, I’ve made sure Kitto starts covering up as well.

Kitto?

Yes, Kittto.

But Kitto’s a cat!

Yes. But a female cat.

But she’ll suffocate.

Oh, she’s already dead.

What?

She’s already dead.

I heard that! But how?

I buried her alive.

You what?

Yes. To avenge Tony’s honour. But now I will behead Tony.

But why?

To save mom’s honour!

Oh, God!

Don’t say that. Always say Allah.

What’s the difference?

Daddy, do you want to be beheaded too?

No!

Do you want to be stoned to death?

No!

Do you want to be flogged?

No!

Do you want to get your arms chopped off?

No!

Then stop asking silly questions. By the way, I won’t call you daddy anymore.

What will you call me then?

Whatever that is Arabic for daddy.

I don’t know any Arabic, son.

That’s because you are a kafir.

Who the heck are you to tell me who I am, you little fascist twit!

What’s a fascist?

An irrational, violent, self-righteous mad man!

W… aaaaaaa…

Why are you crying?

You scolded me.

Okay, I’m sorry. You have to be tolerant and rational, son. Now be a good boy and go read a book instead of watching TV.

I have no books.

Of course, you do. I bought you so many books.

I burned them.

What?

I burned them.

But why?

They were all in English.

So?

It’s a non-Muslim language!

But we are speaking English, aren’t we?

W… aaaaaaa…

What now?

Zionists made me forget my Arabic.

But you never knew any Arabic, son.

W… aaaa… yes, I did until you and mommy gave me the polio drops… aaaaa…

Okay, tell me, can you do me a favour?

Sure, dad.

Can you blow up something for me?

Oh, goody! Of course, dad. What should I blow? A CD shop, a hotel, a school…?

No, no, something a lot more sinister.

Mom?

No, no…

What then?

The TV set!

What?

Blow the TV set.

I heard that! But why?

Just do it!

I see. Dad?

Yes.

You’re so unconstitutional! – (author unknown)

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, March 18, 2013.

Shahbaz speaks in Sindhi

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif spoke in Sindhi with a delegation of some senior journalists from Sindh visiting Lahore.

According to a handout, the journalists were pleasantly surprised by the chief minister’s fluent Sindhi. The chief minister exchanged views with the Sindhi journalists over the national situation and development projects in the Punjab.

Talking about Karachi, Shahbaz Sharif said Karachi was a beautiful city back in the 1960s when he was a student and used to visit the city frequently. However, he said he felt extremely sad to see the situation in Karachi when he visited the city some time back.

Courtesy: http://www.pmln.org/shahbaz-speaks-in-sindhi/

Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

LAHORE: National Industrial Parks (NIP) Development and Management Company has decided to establish a 25 megawatt (MW) power generation plant based on municipal and agro waste besides local coal or combination of these fuels for the electricity requirement of the industries at the Rachna Industrial Park on the main Lahore-Sheikhupura Road.

The Rachna Power Plant will be the first-ever power unit to be developed on the basis of waste as a source of energy. The plant’s primary fuel will be Refused Derive Fuel (RDF) prepared from a mixture of municipal solid wastes and agro wastes, while the coal would be used as a backup fuel.

The technology of an integrated recovery of recyclable materials and production of the refused derive fuel will be adopted for this power plant.

The concept of the modern waste to energy plant has been proposed for the Rachna Power Plant, which is very different from the old incinerators due to the technological progress of the last decade.

Chief Executive Officer Mohsin Syed at NIP meeting in which investors of the Rechna Industrial Park were also present said the municipal solid waste of Lahore and surrounding area and the agro wastes, which including rice husk, corn and wood waste of the adjoining areas would be collected and transported to recycle it into a real fuel that could be easily stored, transported and efficiently burned at the plant site within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park.

He said the power generation complex was proposed to consist of one unit of 6 MW and two units of 11 MW each with total gross capacity of the 28 MW and the net capacity at site would be 25.5 MW to provide operational flexibility and reliability in case of shut down of one or more units.

The power generation facility would be located within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park located at 7.5 kilometers (km) Lahore-Sheikhupura Road on the Upper Chenab Canal. The site is at the distance of 18 km from the

Lahore-Shekhupura Motorway Interchange, 24 km from the Lahore city centre and 40 km from the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore and an area of 10 acres has already been earmarked for the power generation complex at the Rachna Industrial Park, the NIP chief explained.

Continue reading Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

Death by a thousand cuts

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.

Continue reading Death by a thousand cuts

Cries for a lost home(land)

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?”

Continue reading Cries for a lost home(land)

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

The ‘other Punjab’ is at the heart of Pakistani extremism

By Manzar Zaidi

Most of the fighting between Pakistani troops and the Pashtun Taliban has been in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. But the less-reported aspect of recent developments in Pakistan is the endemic radicalisation of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The continuing mobilisation of Punjabi militants – the so-called “Punjabi Taliban” – is just one way that this growing extremism is becoming evident.

Punjab is vital: almost half of Pakistan’s 182 million people live in the province. About 44 per cent of Pakistan’s 20,000 madrassas are there. Of the 1,764 people on government “wanted” lists, 729 are from southern Punjab alone.

Continue reading The ‘other Punjab’ is at the heart of Pakistani extremism

Some misconceptions about Badami Bagh

By Omar

Today a charged mob” set fire to about 150 poor Christian homes in Badami Bagh Lahore. see pictures here.

The order of events was pretty standard.
Wednesday: A Christian sanitary worker (yes, they clean gutters and sweep roads) argued with a Muslim Barber at a snooker game. At some point after this he accused the Christian of having blasphemed he who must not be named.

Friday: “Enraged Muslims” marched into Joseph colony looking for the blasphemer. They beat up his father (age 65, very much in the “beatable” age group) and did some property damage. Police arrested the accused that night. They also advised the local Christians to clear out since more “rage” may be on its way.

Saturday: Thanks to the timely efforts of the Punjab police, no Christians were home when the rage returned on Saturday. 178 houses were burnt, as was one church. No one was killed since no one was there.

Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif has suspended the local police officers and promised to rebuild the houses. He has also said the trial of the blasphemy accused will be held in prison and it is looking possible that the trial will be quick and he may be set free (unlike Aasia bibi, who remains in prison).

“Civil society” has reacted with outrage and the President and the PM have condemned this outrage. Most of the outrage is probably genuine. But I noticed some common misconceptions too.

1. This outrage is new and shocking and marks a “further deterioration” in how things are done in the Islamic Republic….In this case, NOT true. This event is small scale compared to the assault on Shantinagar in 1997.

There have been many other blasphemy accusations and mobs between then and now. The outrage is outrageous, but neither new nor out of proportion to “usual practice”.

2. The mobs are led by misunderstanders of Islam. Actually the mobs are led by people who know what they are doing with remarkable clarity. Blasphemy and apostasy memes (memes, not laws…no law is needed if the meme is firmly in place, since they allow for freelance action) are the twin pillars on which Islamism is built. See here for details. 

Continue reading Some misconceptions about Badami Bagh

British Pakistani Christian Association – In memory of Shanti Nagar

Today is the 16th anniversary of the sacking of Shanti Nagar. In memory of this, we publish the relevant section of a new report on Pakistan we plan to publish quite soon.

Shanti Nagar is a predominantly Salvation Army village in the Punjab province, founded in 1916, of around 25-30,000 people. Apart from about 15 Muslim families – for whom the other villagers built a mosque – the inhabitants are Christian. Hard work in farming meant the village was relatively prosperous. On 17th January police raided the house of a 60 year old Christian, claiming intelligence of alcohol-drinking and gambling going on. The police regularly raided the village on such pretexts – usually about every fortnight, probably because of jealousy over the Christian village’s prosperity. They would harass the villagers, and because the villagers were rich enough to bribe the corrupt police, they always came back for more. Anyway, despite, as ever, no gambling or alcohol or anything else illegal going on there, they searched his property, and amidst the ransacking a box with a bible fell out. The police deliberately kicked and desecrated the bible, and took the man to the police station, even though they had found nothing illegal, and were trying to get a large bribe from him. The residents of the village protested the raid, the false arrest and the desecration of the bible, and also the numerous false blasphemy accusations that had been made against villagers. They asked for charges under article 295 to be brought against the policeman responsible. Even after police investigations found the charge to be true, the police refused to act until sustained pressure resulted in a promise to suspend the officers responsible and take them to court. Then the police pressured the village for the matter to be settled out of court, but they refused and the senior police officer threatened to act in way that meant they would not be able to stand on their own feet for at least 50 years. On 3rd February, a general election day, he posted the policeman who had kicked the bible to Shanti Nagar as security officer. This made the villagers even more angry as it proved the promises by higher police officers to take action was a lie, and they protested even more, so the police hatched a plot. Two days later, a Muslim man went to an abandoned mosque 2km from Shanti Nagar and found – so he said – torn pages of the Quran with blasphemous words and the name and address of the Christian from Shanti-Nagar who complained about his bible being desecrated, along with several others. He took it to the police station of the nearby city of Khanewal, a stronghold of an Islamicist group with ties to Bin Laden called Harkat-ul-Insar. Within 30 minutes of registering a case (and several Christians being arrested), mosque loud speakers from the city and all the Muslim villages around about were calling all faithful Muslims to wage jihad against Shanti Nagar, using word for word identical language. City church priests rushed to warn senior officials of the impending attack, and were promised that all appropriate measures would be made, but that too was a lie. Late that night, mobs started attacking churches, Christian homes and shops and medical dispensaries in Khanewal, setting them and their contents on fire. The next morning, the mob attacked the Catholic church just outside the city Council buildings. Bibles and other books were gathered from churches and burned, and the Holy Communion bread thrown on the floor, statues and the like were systematically smashed. 100’s attacked the priests’ house and burned all the parish records. Pleas for police help went unheeded, they just stood by and watched. The mob attacked a Christian boys school. Many fled, but about 50 of the youngest hid under their beds. The mob set fire to mattresses over them, and they had to flee for their lives, several being carried out unconscious. They burned all the school records and furniture. They then attacked the Salvation army church and pharmacy, and re-attacked the Church of Pakistan building they had attacked the night before. Christians in local shops and homes fled for their lives, but those who were caught were severely beaten. Again the police did nothing. The mob only retreated when Christians started throwing bricks and stones to defend their homes.

Continue reading British Pakistani Christian Association – In memory of Shanti Nagar

Religious bigotry and Pakistani Christians

If you dare to raise your voice against the hostilities and ill-treatment Christians are enduring, it would either be declared as ‘blasphemous’ or you would be labelled as an agent of the firangi

by Adil Shahzeb

I have received tremendous feedback for my last article, “Pakistan, the game of religious bigotry” (Daily Times, November 10, 2012), but one email in particular has compelled me to touch on the challenges faced by the Christian community in Pakistan. I had mentioned Christians just once in my last article, but not enough about the biased and highly unfair treatment that they face throughout their lives. In Pakistan’s religious bigotry, the most deprived of all are the Christians, the ‘minority’ that only gets media attention if accused of ‘blasphemy’ or as a Muslim convert. According to the UK-based Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, “Christians in Pakistan are illiterate, suffering in extreme poverty and unemployment among Christians has increased to an unprecedented level.” The statistical data indicates that only six percent have primary school education; four percent of Christians have high school education, one percent of Christians have college education, and next to no presence in higher studies and professional education.

I had no idea that my article in Daily Times would take me right back to my childhood to reflect upon the ills of our society. Now that I am writing I am reminded of a classmate, the most bullied child at school, who was not even allowed to sit with the other children or to be precise, no other pupil would prefer to willingly share a desk with him unless as a punishment by the teacher for not doing his homework. He was the only Christian child in the entire school who would stand with his lunch box in a corner of the playground during recess and was never allowed by the other children to play with them. For obvious reasons he failed all of his exams three years in row until he was forced to leave. Back then I never understood how deprived he was, but now I really feel for the mental torture and the traumatised childhood he endured. Of course it does not matter at all in Pakistan what Article Five of the Universal Declaration of Human Right states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

It is not only how an underprivileged Christian child is treated at school. When he grows up in our highly radicalised society he is told: the only job that suits you is to clean the streets of Pakistan as that was how your forefathers served this country. And it does not stop there; you also will not have a say in the country’s mainstream affairs including politics; you would hardly be considered for any white-collar job, and last but certainly not the least, all your life your ‘non-Christian’ friends would look down upon you, and you would most probably be the victim of bullying forever. Even though your educational institutions and the broken society would only groom you as the next generation of lowly worker, if you somehow manage to grow up with a good education and competence, most of the jobs that you would opt for would be for non-Christians. However if despite that, you do manage to secure a decent job, you could face a similar hostile work environment that you went through at your school.

Continue reading Religious bigotry and Pakistani Christians

Imran Khan, PTI leaders Alliance with Tahirul Qadri

PTI leaders, Tahirul Qadri hold talks over reconstitution of ECP

By Ema Anis

LAHORE: Top leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) met Minhajul Quran International (MQI) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Lahore on Wednesday to discuss their reservations over the current Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

PTI president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi told the media that the reservations were only discussed during the meeting, but the final decision will be taken by his party regarding the petition being filed in the Supreme Court by Qadri for the reconstitution of the election commission.

PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that a transparent ECP is crucial for the upcoming elections, “but the government claims that it cannot dissolve the election commission as it is against Article 209”. ….

Courtesy: The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/503384/pti-leaders-tahirul-qadri-hold-talks-over-reconstitution-of-ecp/

IndoPakPeaceNOW Global Vigil Jan 27, 2013

Initiated by an Aman ki Asha supporter in New Delhi, this global event on Sunday, Jan. 27 is taking place in different cities at different times around the world. It invites Indians and Pakistanis and those who want peace between the two countries, to come together in their respective cities. The purpose of the vigils is to urge the governments to continue the dialogue, and not give in to the war hype being created by some sections of sections of society. The vigil statement is online at this link (text below)

Confirmed venues and times so far:

Bradford: 2-3 pm, Student Central, J.B. Priestly Library, University of Bradford, U.K.

Cambridge, MA: 4.30-5.30 pm, Harvard Square Pit (fb event link)

Islamabad: 6 pm, Press Club, F-6/4. Contact 0344-5469738 and 0300-9880397

Karachi: 5.30 pm, Karachi Press Club

Lahore: 6 pm, Lahore Press Club, Shimla Pihari (fb event link)

Los Angeles – 5 pm, in front of UCLA

Mumbai: 7 pm, Gateway of India

New Delhi: 5.30 pm, Gandhi Peace Foundation, email aaghazedosti@gmail.com

New York: 5 PM at Union Square near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue

Shahdadkot- 5 pm, Press Club

Toronto: 5 pm, 365 Bloor St. East, Toronto (outside Indian Consulate) (fb event link)

Washington DC: 6 pm, Chutney Restaurant, Springfield, VA

Kansas City: 5:30-7:30 at Kababesh Grill, Overland Park

Courtesy:  via Facebook

Is Pakistan going to become a “moderate Muslims” country?

Tahirul Qadri asks govt to bring ‘change’ by Jan 10

By Web Desk

LAHORE: Allama Tahirul Qadri, head of Minhajul Qur’an International (MQI), said the government should improve the current setup by January 10 or else he will lead a protest march to Islamabad on January 14.

Qadri was addressing a gathering named “Siyasat nahi, Riyasat bachao” at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore.

Criticising those in power, Qadri said in order to save the country, the people of Pakistan must decide if they will let corrupt people represent them.

Referring to the recent investigative report on country’s lawmakers who don’t pay taxes, Qadri said such people should not be allowed to become a part of the parliament.

“How can people who themselves break laws be allowed to sit in the parliament,” he said.

He also said that the parliament formulates laws that are in favour of the lawmakers rather than the people of Pakistan.

Speaking about his political plans, Qadri said his entire agenda is in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.

He further added that the much-anticipated election should take place but the concerned authorities should ensure it is conducted according to the Constitution.

Continue reading Is Pakistan going to become a “moderate Muslims” country?

Inquilab zindabad!

By:Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

How is Bhagat Singh more Indian than Pakistani?

Revolutionaries never die; definitely not until what they strived for is achieved. They can also reincarnate when liberation is threatened by incarceration. The cause they fought for can wake up again, the struggle they gave birth to can be born again, the noise they generated can resonate again, the slogans they chanted can reverberate again – if recent events are anything to go by, Lahore should echo with “Inquilab zindabad!” again.

Bhagat Singh’s revolution could reawaken 81 years after the British hanged him in Lahore. The indirect skirmishes between the Tehreek Hurmat-e-Rasool (THK) led fundamentalists and the Dilkash Lahore Committee, over renaming Fawwara Chowk (or Shadman Chowk) back to its pre-partition name of ‘Bhagat Singh Chowk’, is a throwback to the clash between suppression and freedom that the man gave his life for. Apparently dying for the sake of the independence of this country and its people isn’t reason enough for the square – where he was hanged on 23 March, 1931, aged 23 – to be named after the freedom fighter himself. It is a pity that people and groups, who now have the luxury to openly express themselves – something that they didn’t have back then –, choose their expression to oppose tributes to those very personalities that made this freedom possible, owing to their religious identity.

Continue reading Inquilab zindabad!

Lahore Pakistan Mob sets girls’ school on fire over ‘blasphemy’

Mob sets girls’ school on fire over ‘blasphemy’

LAHORE: A large number of students, their parents and other people on Wednesday protested against a school administration for “distributing a blasphemous essay sheet among students”.

The protesters later set Farooqi Girls High School in Ravi Road area on fire.

Continue reading Lahore Pakistan Mob sets girls’ school on fire over ‘blasphemy’

ANP to oppose Kalabagh dam construction to “their last breath”

During court proceeding on Thursday, Chief Justice LHC Umar Ata Bundial remarked that as it is a question of national interest, the court would definitely order in favour of the dam’s construction.

LAHORE: The Awami National Party (ANP) announced on Thursday that it would oppose the construction of the controversial Kalabagh Dam to “their very last breath”, DawnNews reported.

ANP spokesperson Zahid Khan told DawnNews on Thursday that the dam was a conspiracy for national destruction and the Lahore High Court (LHC) should remain careful while making any decisions on the matter.

Khan said that the ANP would offer the same sacrifices again as it did in its fight against terrorism.

The construction of the controversial hydroelectric dam, proposed to be built at Kalabagh in Punjab’s Mianwali district, is a thorny political issue likely to fuel further tension between Punjab and the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhthunkhwa.

The Lahore High Court is currently hearing petitions for the construction of Kalabagh dam, which is believed to be able end the country’s power crisis.

During court proceeding on Thursday, Chief Justice LHC Umar Ata Bundial remarked that as it is a question of national interest, the court would definitely order in favour of the dam’s construction.

Continue reading ANP to oppose Kalabagh dam construction to “their last breath”

Veteran politician Rasool Bux Palijo has claimed that the Thar coal project was being delayed to pave the way for the Kalabagh dam

Veteran politician fears Kalabagh dam project being revived

HYDERABAD, Oct 23: Awami Tehreek (AT) chairman Rasool Bux Palijo has claimed that the Thar coal project was being delayed to pave the way for the Kalabagh dam.

Speaking to reporters at the Palijo House in Qasimabad on Tuesday, he said that a petition had recently been filed in the Lahore High Court to seek the go-ahead for the Kalabagh dam project but the PPP government, which had been opposing it for years, was taking no notice of the move.

The Kalabagh dam plan is a matter of life and death for Sindh,” he reminded the PPP, and told the media that under a conspiracy water downstream Kotri barrage was to be stopped and this would render Sindh’s agricultural lands barren forcing the affected landowners to dispose of their lands at cheap rates.

This [Kalabagh] is the plan is for the destruction of Sindh,” he remarked, and said that millions of Sindhi people would oppose it tooth and nail.

Quoting the Lahore High Court observation that the government was not serious about building the dam, Mr Palijo apprehended that the court was going to give its verdict in favour of the petitioner.

“The PPP is very likely to continue with its lip service to the issue,” the veteran politician predicted. He spoke about the strong resistance to the project put up by the PPP when it was led by Benazir Bhutto, and said that the PPP along with the Awami Tehreek had staged a historical sit-in at Kammo Shaheed in Aug 1998 and declared that it would never allow construction of any dam on the Indus.

Continue reading Veteran politician Rasool Bux Palijo has claimed that the Thar coal project was being delayed to pave the way for the Kalabagh dam

The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

By Shalva Weil for ISN Insights

In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan, specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel. Nariman House was a ‘Chabad house’ of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Hasidic Judaism – a Jewish outreach center that included an educational center, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. David Coleman Headley, who testified in the United States at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”. The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted.

The Jews of Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents. When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore. The largest Jewish community lived in Karachi, where there was a large synagogue and a smaller prayer hall. There were two synagogues in Peshawar, one small prayer hall in Lahore belonging to the Afghan Jewish community, and one prayer hall in Quetta. Even today, according to unofficial sources, there are rumors that some Jews remain in Pakistan, including doctors and members of the free professions, who converted or pass themselves off as members of other religions.

The Jews of Pakistan were of various origins, but most were from the Bene Israel community of India, and came to Pakistan in the employ of the British. Yifah, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relates that her great-great-grandfather Samuell Reuben Bhonkar, who was a Bene Israel, came to Karachi in British India to work as a jailer, and died there in 1928. The Bene Israel originated in the Konkan villages, but many moved to Bombay from the end of the 18th century on. In Pakistan, they spoke Marathi, their mother-tongue from Maharashtra; Urdu and most spoke English. Prayers were conducted in Hebrew.

In 1893, a Bene Israel from Bombay, Solomon David Umerdekar, inaugurated the Karachi Magen Shalom Synagogue on the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road, which officially opened in 1912. During these years, the Jewish community thrived. In 1903, the community set up the Young Man’s Jewish Association, and the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund was established to support poor Jews. In 1918, the Karachi Jewish Syndicate was formed to provide housing at reasonable rents, and the All India Israelite League, which represented 650 Bene Israel living in the province of Sindh (including Hyderabad, Larkano, Mirpur-Khas and Sukkur, as well as Karachi), was first convened – founded by two prominent Bene Israel, Jacob Bapuji Israel and David S Erulkar. Karachi became a fulcrum for the Bene Israel in India, the place where they congregated for High Holiday prayers. There was also a prayer hall, which served the Afghan Jews residing in the city. A 1941 government census recorded 1,199 Pakistani Jews: 513 men and 538 women. So accepted were the Jews of Karachi in these years that Abraham Reuben, a leader in the Jewish community, became the first Jewish councilor on the Karachi Municipal Corporation.

Continue reading The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Punjab government guilty of blasphemy: says MNA Fazle Karim

Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool: ‘Don’t vote them into government again’

By Rana Tanveer

LAHORE: MNA Fazle Karim of the Sunni Ittehad Council condemned the mainstream political parties on Friday for not joining the protests against the anti-Islam movie and urged the public to not vote for them in the next elections.

He was speaking to an Ishq-i-Rasool Day rally on The Mall.

Karim said the ruling parties could not be trusted with representing the sentiments or interests of the people. He said the parties were silent on the issue because they were afraid of losing the United States’ support for their governments.

He demanded a joint session of the parliament to evolve a strategy for dealing with any insult to Islam.

The SIC chief said the provincial [- -Punjab – -] government was guilty of blasphemy when it demolished six shrines that fell in the route of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Lahore.

Continue reading Punjab government guilty of blasphemy: says MNA Fazle Karim

Till the “Innocence of Muslims” film’s director is not hanged, No American Embassy can run in Pakistan; Says Hafiz Saeed

Banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba/ Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s chief Hafiz Saeed Says, till the “Innocence of Muslims” film’s director is not hanged, No American Embassy can run in Pakistan & no relations with America …. The language of the news is urdu/Hindi.

Courtesy: Duniya Tv »Via – ZemTv

More details » Voice of America (urdu)

Sindh saviours’ garlanded in Lahore

By: Khalid Hasnain

LAHORE, Sept 7: The Awami Tehrik’s Islamabad-bound ‘Muhabbat-i-Sindh train march’ reached Lahore on Friday in a bid to mobilise people against reintroduction of the Local Government System, proposed plan for establishing Zulfikarabad and alleged corruption by the PPP and the MQM in Sindh.

“These poor people have not come here for recreation but have left their homes just to save Sindh through Muhabbat-i-Sindh rally from the corrupt PPP-led coalition,” AT chief Ayaz Latif Palijo told a big gathering at the Lahore railway station. This is the first extensive public mobilisation campaign against the coalition government by any left-wing political party.

The train march was warmly greeted at all major railway stations in Punjab, including Rahim Yar Khan, Khanewal, Sahiwal and Okara.

At Lahore, scores of Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) workers led by Farooq Tariq and trade unionists and activists received the participants by hoisting their party flags. The AT workers responded to the gesture with joyous dancing to national and Sindhi songs played through an electronic music system installed by the march managers in train.

Continue reading Sindh saviours’ garlanded in Lahore

Justice in Uthopia – Nadeem F. Paracha

In April 2007, one of my favorite cousins who was then a student at the prestigious LUMS in Lahore visited me on the evening of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s “historic” procession in Lahore (during the Lawyers Movement). She said she was joining many of her colleagues who were already at the event.

Knowing my past as a former student activist, she was taken aback when I told her I’m not all enthusiastic about the commotion.

Responding to my lukewarm reception to her youthful idea of “bringing a revolution,” she said the principle behind the tumult is vital.

“What principle?” I asked.

“Justice and democracy,” she said.

“But you don’t even vote!” I smirked. “90 per cent of the middle-class people I’ve heard passionately supporting the cause of the CJP (who was fired by the Musharraf dictatorship on corruption charges), have never bothered to vote. What democracy are you talking about?”

However, I did add that she should go to the rally to learn.

“Learn what?” She asked.

“Learn how the most vivacious leaders are better at hijacking movements than they are at initiating revolutions,” I replied.

“So why were you guys so gung ho about Benazir Bhutto in the 1980s?” She asked.

“Because Benazir inherently represented so many sides that were a natural anathema to whatever Zia’s dictatorship stood for” I said. “First of all, in an era of Hudood laws, chauvinism and mullah politicians, she was a woman; an educated and outspoken woman. Benazir shone brightly like the country’s finest hope for a democratic system.”

Continue reading Justice in Uthopia – Nadeem F. Paracha

Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

By Abdul Manan

Sources said, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours.

LAHORE: It could be the first-ever security threat to a nuclear facility in Pakistan, and the Army and security forces are taking no risks.

Following ‘serious’ security threats from the homegrown Taliban, the Army and Punjab police have deployed heavy forces at one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan), credible sources told The Express Tribune.

Besides the deployment inside and around the nuclear installation, three divisions in South Punjab have also been asked to launch a crackdown against banned outfits, sources added.

“DG Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said a high ranking military officer currently serving at the installation.

According to an official who works at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a key military and civilian fuel cycle site is located 40 kilometres from DG Khan. The site comprises uranium milling and mining operations, and a uranium hexaflouride conversion plant.

‘Serious’ threat

Sources in the military and Punjab Police, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the nature of threat at the nuclear installation is ‘serious,’ with an 80% chance of occurrence.

The Inter-Services Intelligence reportedly intercepted a telephone call from the TTP, wherein they were said to have been finalising their strategy for attacks on nuclear installations in DG Khan, sources said.

Three to four vehicles carrying suicide bombers are about to enter DG Khan and can strike the nuclear facilities at any time, the caller concluded according to sources. Sources said that, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours. Direct threats via phone or letters often do not materialise, the source added.

Foiling the attack

DG Khan District Police Officer Chaudhry Saleem confirmed the threat, while talking to The Express Tribune, and said that DG Khan Police has received instructions from the military officer in charge at the nuclear installation to beef up security around the facility as much as possible.

The TTP started to send threats to the installation after the attacks on Kamra air base, Saleem said, adding that the police has established six new pickets around the nuclear installations and deployed heavy forces over the last 24 hours.

Sources said that a heavy contingent of military from the Multan cantonment has also reached the site and beefed up the inner cordon of the security. Military has also been deployed near the border with Balochistan.

Revenge for Qaisrani

Well-placed sources in law enforcement agencies said that when the TTP attacked Kamra air base, they announced that they would take revenge for killing of their South Punjab head Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani by also attacking nuclear installations in DG Khan.

Sources said the DG Khan Police killed Qaisrani in an encounter in the first week of August, along with eight of his companions, almost clearing his network in the area.The police were able to trace Qaisrani after they interrogated Adnan Khosa, who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore along with Qaisrani, sources said, adding that Khosa is currently imprisoned in DG Khan.

Qaisrani’s elimination caused a major loss to the TTP in South Punjab, and the militant outfit vowed to take revenge.

Earlier attacks

According to local politicians, the DG Khan nuclear site and adjacent areas had previously been a target of ground attacks by Baloch insurgents, but not the TTP.

Continue reading Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission

LAHORE: Former president of the Supreme Court Bar, Asma Jahangir on Monday said that the officer tasked by the SC to investigate the Arsalan Iftikhar case has close ties with the chief justice’s son and cannot be trusted to conduct a transparent investigation, DawnNews reported.

Speaking to media representatives at the Lahore High Court (LHC), Jahangir remarked that the UK’s Scotland Yard should be called in to probe the Arsalan Iftikhar case if Pakistani institutions are deemed unreliable.

Jahangir alleged that Shoaib Suddle, the investigating officer, is also known to regularly attend Arsalan Iftikhar’s events, she said, adding that he could not be expected to conduct a transparent investigation into the case.

Pakistan’s apex court is investigating allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, and business tycoon Malik Riaz.

On Aug 30, the Supreme Court had accepted a review petition against its own earlier order, appointing Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Mohammad Shoaib Suddle as the one man-commission to probe the controversial case. The commission is required to complete the task in a month.

Criticising the court’s decision, Jahangir said that if there were any questions over the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) investigating team, then the team could have been changed instead of changing the whole verdict.

Continue reading Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission