ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that liberals in Pakistan were the scum of the country who backed US policies.
In a tell-all interview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, who was visiting Pakistan recently, Khan shared his views ranging from the political to the personal, including martial laws, Memogate, corruption and allegations against him.
Talking about liberals, he said that liberals were the scum of this country and were fascists. Khan said that those liberals backed bombing of villages, drone attacks. He added that it was the liberals who backed US policies, including the War on Terror that had aggravated extremism in the country.
Answering a question on being called ‘Taliban Khan’, the PTI chief said that he was being labelled that since he encouraged dialogue with the Taliban instead of military action, a policy which the US eventually had to adopt too.
He also touched upon criticism against him about praying on stage during rallies, to which he said that he prayed five times a day and that praying on the stage was not an exception.
“Are you there God? It’s me David. And, um, well … I’ve managed to cause a spot of bother ….”
Apologies to author Judy Blume, but it’s hard not to imagine some of the inner conversations Prime Minister David Cameron might be having in the fevered wake of his pre-Easter comments about Britain’s “status as a Christian country.’
Admittedly, they might be a little more complex than the musings of a prepubescent girl struggling with her own religious identity while also trying to navigate the complex world of training bras and spin the bottle.
But David Cameron’s actual comments – and the reaction to them by a group of “militant secularists” as the tabloid press has dubbed them – have sparked a mini media frenzy in Britain.
Britain: a ‘Christian country?’
The debate has even drawn out the great serpent of spin Alistair Campbell, who has accused Cameron of exaggerating his Christian zeal in order to deflect government scandals. “How are we to believe Cameron believes it all when so recently he was twiddling the knobs on the radio trying to find his faith at all,” Campbell wrote in a blog.
Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief, was referring to comments Cameron made about his own flickering faith just a few years ago when he famously said that it tended to “come and go” like a hard-to-find frequency on the radio.
Cue the quips about trying to tune in to religion and fuzzy dials.
Cameron’s latest – and to some, offending – comments about his Christian faith came in the form of a pre-Easter reception at Downing Street for religious leaders. He followed up with an article written for a paper called the Church Times.
“I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country,” wrote Cameron, saying that Britain should be “more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.
“Being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgment on those with no faith at all,” he wrote.
A group of prominent liberals was quick to challenge that, writing an open letter to Cameron in the Daily Telegraph and accusing him of fostering alienation and division in the UK.
“We object to his characterization of Britain as a ‘Christian country’ and the negative consequences for politics and society that this engenders,” said the letter, signed by a bevy of “personalities” ranging from philosopher A.C. Grayling to author Philip Pullman.
“Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church, Britain is not a ‘Christian country,'” the letter said.
This beleaguered minority in the country still deserves international support.
BY SADANAND DHUME
This isn’t the best time to be a Pakistani liberal. Opinion polling shows most Pakistanis thinking of America as an enemy, democracy as an unwelcome concept and the imposition of Shariah law as a no-brainer. Meanwhile, recent news out of the country involves the judiciary taking down an elected prime minister and politicians like Imran Khan riding high by invoking anti-imperialist and Islamist ideas, even as an Urdu-language media remains saturated with hyper-nationalism.
Against this backdrop, the world can’t be blamed for regarding the Pakistani liberal as an exotic hothouse flower with no roots in the country’s unforgiving soil. As the United States enters a shaky new period of detente with Pakistan following the reopening last week of supply routes to Afghanistan, it’s fair to ask if these liberals deserve notice at all. Doesn’t it make more sense for the West to instead engage more intensely with the powerful army and assertive hardliners such as Mr. Khan?
The answer is no. It’s always tempting for the West to do business with whoever’s powerful, but this is a recipe for the kind of trouble America right now faces with its troublesome “ally.” Pakistan’s liberals are not only less weak and less of a fringe phenomenon than they’re made out to be, they’re also the only ones who hold out the promise of a better future for their country.
One recurring complaint against liberalism is that though Pakistan regained its democracy four years ago, President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government still can’t wrest decision-making away from the military. But no civilian government could realistically be expected to immediately assert its authority over an army that has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 65 years, and continues to command the lion’s share of national resources. As the experiences of Indonesia and Turkey show, only when democracy grows roots do politicians acquire the finesse and self-confidence to take on generals accustomed to command. This takes patience.
Two months ago, after Governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder and the jubilant support for the policeman who killed him, religious scholars in Pakistan told us that since common people don’t know enough about religion they should leave it to those who do – basically anyone with a beard.
Everyone thought it made a cruel kind of sense. So everyone decided to shut up: the Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) government because it wanted to cling to power, liberals in the media because they didn’t want to be the next Taseer. The move to amend the blasphemy law was shelved.
It was an unprecedented victory for Pakistan’s mullah minority. They had told a very noisy and diverse people to shut up and they heard back nothing but silence. After Pakistan’s only Christian federal minister, Shahbaz Bhatti – the bravest man in Islamabad – was murdered on Tuesday, they were back on TV, this time condemning the killing, claiming it was a conspiracy against them, against Islam and against Pakistan. The same folk who had celebrated one murder and told us how not to get murdered were wallowing in self pity. …
The decision of a lower court to award the death penalty to a poor Christian woman accused of blasphemy has ignited a wide debate over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Liberals have asked that the Zia-era blasphemy law should be repealed or amended because it has become an instrument of oppression and injustice in the hands of mobs and gangsters (over 4000 prosecutions in 25 years with several gruesome extra-judicial executions). …
Lovers tiff, impending divorce or trial separation?
by Omar Ali
…… 2. The romantic Left delusion. This is the belief that Pakistan’s corrupt elite deserves to be overthrown by the lower classes and the Taliban are (an unfortunate but expected) instrument of this necessary revolution. Actually the first part of this delusion is not a delusion. The Pakistani elite is not just corrupt, they have been practically suicidal. Where other corrupt third world elites have mismanaged the state, provided poor governance, oppressed the poor and failed to evolve a stable political system, Pakistan’s elite (which in this case means the army high command and their supporters) have done something no other third world elite has managed. They have armed, trained and encouraged their own executioners in the course of a demented scheme of trying to wrest Kashmir from India while laying the foundation for a mini-empire in central Asia. But the second part of this delusion is the real delusion here. The Pakistani Taliban is not the Bolshevik party; in fact, they are not even the Iranian Mullahs. They were created by the army as an outgrowth of the American-sponsored Afghan jihad. Their leadership is derived from the Madrasahs and think tanks sponsored by Saudi money and inspired by Syed Qutb and the most virulent Wahhabi and Salafist clerics in the world. They were guided by thejihadist faction of GHQ, men inspired by Maudoodi and his children, not by Marx or even Ali Shariati. They have absolutely no workable social or economic plan. If they do overthrow the elite, what follows will be a nightmare of historic proportions. If the whole thing does not dissolve into anarchy, it will be stabilized by an army coup. After purging liberals and hanging Veena Malik, the dictatorship of the mullahtariat will degenerate into an Islamic version of Myanmar, not revolutionary Iran or Castro’s Cuba.
Cia So, coming back to our original topic: does the Raymond Davis affair reflect a lover’s spat or an impending divorce? My guess is that its not a divorce. The US has few options and neither does Pakistan. We are probably in for more of the same, but with a chance that one of these days the ISI will find itself the victim of too much success and will not be able to pull back from the brink of divorce. Meanwhile, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the state department to pass out more money to GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the Pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion. May Allah protect us from anything worse.
“They’re armed, we’re not. They’ve nothing to lose. They fight for their faith with bullets. We’re not ready to die.”Rehana Hakim, Editor, Newsline
“The liberal-minded people are thinking of leaving the country. The liberal space will shrink even further.”Ayesha Siddiqa
“Should I remain silent or stand up to be counted? I’m struggling to take a decision.”Moneeza Hashmi, Broadcaster
The Flickering Flame
. Pakistan’s liberals are fleeing the country in fear or being forced into silence.
– Mariana Baabar
When Omer announced he had completed his master’s degree from a university in London and wished to return home to Karachi, his father Rahim Khan, a senior government official, should have marvelled at his luck. After all, only a minuscule percentage of boys from the subcontinent ever return to their country from studies abroad. Contrary to expectations, Rahim was dismayed, promptly advising his only son to enrol for another course or grab a job, to do anything he could to extend his visa there. Rahim explained his decision to Outlook, “He will have no future in a city where you can’t be sure of returning home alive in the evening.”
It isn’t just those from the rich, western-educated class who have made it their habit to take a flight out of Pakistan, often for good. Months ago, Allama Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, a leading religious scholar, decided to make Dubai his home, so weary was he of the repeated threats from the obscurantists livid at his moderate interpretation of Islam. Marred by continuing ethnic strife, the once-liberal city of Karachi has also undergone rampant Talibanisation, goading the rich to make a beeline for safer climes abroad. This exodus prompted columnist Kamran Shafi to recently write about the “darkened homes in Karachi where the inmates have flown to alternative ‘nests’ in Canada, England and Malaysia”.
For long, Pakistan has seen its people migrate for reasons as varied as better economic prospects to hopes of escaping political discrimination and the state’s inability to provide protection from murderous gangs scouring the land with impunity. Whoever from the minority groups of Hindus and Christians can leave the country, does so at the first opportunity. Joining them in droves in recent times have been those from the Ahmedia sect, which is deemed non-Muslim under law. A significant percentage of the exodus comprises businessmen, often the target of kidnapping and extortion. Pakistanis have always asked themselves: should we leave the country or stay behind?
This question has again become a subject of fervent debate from the time Punjab governor Salman Taseer was gunned down and the shocking feting of his assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who was outraged by his victim’s support for amending the blasphemy law. For someone to be killed for an opinion, an idea, has jolted Pakistanis into reflecting over their journey backward—from liberating progressivism to stifling conservatism. Recalls journalist Adnan Rehmat, “In the ’60s and ’70s, you could even eat at restaurants during Ramadan and see women in saris and bell-bottoms in the bazaars. Burqas and beards were a rare sight.” …
Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani actress castigated for appearing to cuddle with an Indian actor on a reality show lashed out at a Muslim cleric who had criticized her during a widely watched television exchange this week.
The unusual outburst, punctuated by tears, came at a sensitive time in a country where Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and liberals are increasingly afraid to express their views.
“What is your problem with me? You tell me your problem!” an angry Veena Malik asked the Muslim scholar, who accused her of insulting Islam.
Earlier this month, a liberal Pakistani governor was shot dead for opposing the country’s harsh laws against blasphemy. In the aftermath, his killer was cheered as a hero among many in the public, shocking the country’s small liberal establishment.
Malik, 26, participated recently on Bigg Boss, an Indian version of “Big Brother.” Clips of the show on the Internet include ones in which she appears cozy with Indian actor Ashmit Patel. Those scenes, and her involvement with a show in Pakistan’s archrival India, prompted criticism online and on the air.
“You have insulted Pakistan and Islam,” Mufti Abdul Qawi accused her on the Express TV channel talk show via a television link. The exchange first aired Friday and then again Saturday.
A furious Malik shot back, saying Qawi targeted her because she is a woman, reminding him that the Quran admonishes men not to stare at a woman’s beauty beyond a first glance, and telling him there were bigger problems in Pakistan, including the alleged rape of children at mosques.
During the exchange, Qawi admitted he had not seen the clips of the show but had heard about it from others.
“What does your Islam say, mufti sir?” the actress asked. “You issue edicts on the basis of hearsay.”
Malik said she had read the Quran and she knew what lines not to cross as a Muslim as well as an entertainer in South Asia. She pointed out that she never kissed Patel, for instance.
“I am a Muslim woman, and I know my limits,” she said. The cleric seemed unable to respond to her flood of words.
Malik’s fierce outburst sparked a barrage of comments on Twitter. While some writers said they didn’t agree with her and one called her a “porn star,” others said she was brave for standing up to the Pakistani clerical establishment, especially when such an act can mean personal danger.
Wrote one supporter: “The only way to talk to these bloody clerics is to talk down to them. Veena Malik did just that, and how. Good for her!”