Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.
BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN
Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.
BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN
By: Nadeem F. Paracha
Born in 1956, Fauzia Wahab was enjoying a fiery career as a passionate human rights worker and one of the most prominent voices of reason in the often chaotic, judgmental and fiercely patriarchal world of Pakistani politics and sociology, when her life was cut short on June 17, 2012.
Belonging to Pakistan’s largest political outfit, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Fauzia’s fame was nothing like that of former PPP Chairperson, late Benazir Bhutto, and nor was she known so well outside of Pakistan like the country’s other famous women activists and democrats like Benazir or Asma Jahangir.
Fauzia’s fame was largely local, rooted deep in whatever that is left of the tradition of progressive politics and liberalism in the country’s urban middle-classes – a tradition that was triggered by the rise of the PPP in the late 1960s and gave large sections of the Pakistani middle-classes a left-leaning and almost revolutionary dimension.
Although Fauzia was in school when leftist student organisations and trade, labour and journalist unions rose to successfully challenge the rule of Pakistan’s first military dictator, Ayub Khan, in the late 1960s, she was quick to join politics when she entered college in 1972 and then the Karachi University in 1975.
A glimpse into her career as a student politician can be an insightful exercise to understand the kind of a charisma she possessed that continued to make her stand out without requiring her to be a leading political figure or an ideologue.
A PPP colleague of hers once described Fauzia as a smiling rebel who had a natural knack of balancing her traditional side with her rebellious streak without looking or sounding contradictory or confused.
The same colleague (who was talking to me late last year in an informal chat), thought that Fauzia’s first act of rebellion was actually against her own ethnic background.
Coming from an educated Urdu-speaking family settled in Karachi, Fauzia did not automatically support the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) or the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) like most Urdu-speakers of Sindh and its capital, Karachi, did till the late 1970s.
Instead, when she joined college, she at once jumped into the ranks of leftist and progressive student groups, but without waving Mao’s Red Book or Marx’s Das Kapital.
Another colleague of hers who was with her in a progressive student group at Karachi University and then later joined the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), told me that Fauzia was always more interested in solving the problems of the students and challenging those who used faith to impose their politics than she was in leftist theory.
It was this attitude of hers that placed her in the leading ranks of the Progressive Students Alliance at the Karachi University – an alliance comprising of various left-wing, liberal and Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun student groups.
But battling opposing student groups, especially those on the right, through student union elections and campaigning, was where it all started and ended for Fauzia – in 1978 she met and married another passionate progressive student politician, Wahab Siddiqui, who soon went on to become an accomplished journalist.
After marriage, Fauzia gladly became a housewife, raising her children and supporting her husband’s career as a journalist. But her love for politics, the liberal ideals that had driven her as a student and her romance for Karachi remained intact.
Some early recruits of the MQM claim that Fauzia almost joined the MQM when it suddenly rose to become Karachi’s leading party in the late 1980s. Though this was never mentioned by Fauzia herself, it is however true that she eventually became a kind of a pioneer of a little known but important strain in the workings of the PPP in Karachi, Sindh.
I can vouch for this because I, as an active member of the PPP’s student-wing, the PSF (in the 1980s), too got involved in what Fauzia would ultimately represent within the PPP as a Karachiite.
When Benazir returned to Pakistan from exile in 1986 and then went on to become the country’s first woman prime minister in 1988, she at once recognised the importance of having the MQM as a ‘natural ideological partner’ and a party that could keep governments afloat with the seats that it was able to win in Karachi and Hyderabad.
I was at the Karachi University in 1989 when Benazir constituted a team of Sindhi and Urdu-speaking members of the PPP to negotiate a coalition deal with MQM chief Altaf Hussain. I remember how this policy created a kind of a rift within the ranks of the PSF in Karachi.
One faction was totally against Benazir’s move, while the other faction saw it as a way to unite secular forces so they could reclaim the political space they had lost to the ‘reactionaries’ and religionists during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship.
Though a Punjabi from my father’s side, I was born and bred in Karachi. So I decided to side with the latter group and was ultimately ‘expelled’ from the university by the former faction.
Of course, the coalition collapsed and dozens of students lost their lives in the deadly clashes that followed between the PSF and MQM’s student-wing the APMSO.
However, even while an operation was underway against MQM militants under the second Benazir regime (1993-96), I am witness to the fact that Benazir’s idea of creating a bridge (made up of ideological similarities as well as pragmatism) between Karachi chapters of the PPP and MQM was very much alive.
And here is where Fauzia came in. After the tragic sudden death of her husband in 1993, Fauzia found herself returning to politics. Her husband had played an active role as a journalist against the Zia dictatorship and this drew the attention of Benazir who made Fauzia the Information Secretary of the PPP’s women’s wing in Sindh.
An articulate and educated person from a respected Urdu-speaking middle-class family, Fauzia was to become that bridge between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi. Later on, Fauzia, along with another prominent PPP Karachite, Faisal Raza Abidi, would play a prominent role in helping Asif Ali Zardari strike a coalition with the MQM after the 2008 elections.
Though a passionate Karachite and proud of her ethnic background, Fauzia was first and foremost a Pakistani who wanted to use the platform of a large political party to continue raising human rights issues, especially those related to women.
Fauzia became a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Fauzia was the person Benazir banked on to continue building links between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi as well as being one of the faces in the PPP the MQM was most comfortable with.
But it wasn’t until during the Musharraf dictatorship that Fauzia was thrown into the limelight of Pakistani politics. Being made an MNA during the 2002 elections, she played an active political role against the Musharraf regime.
This was also due to the eruption of privately owned TV news channels in the country. Fauzia became a prominent fixture in most political talk shows, passionately criticising the Musharraf regime and articulating her party’s understanding of the situation.
After Benazir’s shocking assassination in 2007, Fauzia managed to survive the PPP’s new chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s changes within the party structure. In fact she became an even more prominent figure in the party.
Along with Faisal Raza Abidi and Qamar Zaman Kaira, Fauzia became one of the fiercest defenders of the PPP regime’s polices in the electronic media. But unlike many other politicians who also became regular fixtures on TV talk shows, Fauzia retained a cheerful witty attitude.
However, she wasn’t only about defending her party’s regime. Along with famous human rights activist and lawyer, Asma Jahangir, Fauzia was one of the few prominent Pakistani women who never held back while lambasting crimes of hate committed by religious nuts and terrorists.
She openly condemned the murder of Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, by a crackpot who wrongly accused Taseer of committing blasphemy. She was threatened by a number of fanatical clerics and their supporters for this.
Fauzia continued highlighting the threat to Pakistanis, especially women and those belonging to minority religions, faced from radical religious groups. She continued to remain a target of the abuse and menacing threats that came her way from religious outfits.
But she marched on, still holding her balanced mantle that seamlessly mixed passionate oratory with reason and hearty wit.
By Jahanzaib Haque
….. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) must issue a list of the blocked websites with explanations for who blocked the site and for what reason, under which law, along with the length of the ban. No ban should be put in place without court approval and due discourse with independent entities set up to safeguard the rights of the citizens. Any ban on a site should be preceded by a prior warning sent to the webmaster, possibly including a two/three strike system. A notice of an implemented ban should be sent to the site owners and announced publicly and there should be a clearly established system for challenging the ban.
As yet, the PTA and the government have made no overtures to suggest they want to be held accountable or want to develop a system after consultation with the citizens they serve. Till they do, the ongoing and upcoming censorship of the internet in Pakistan must be fought tooth and nail.
Read more: The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2012.
Intellectual and historian Dr Mubarak Ali is a prolific and versatile writer who has produced around fifty books on issues ranging from the Age of Reason in Europe to the women’s movement and the history of South Asia.
The objective of this seminar series is to understand the roots and dynamics of religious extremism within the context of Pakistani society, which could be referenced to evolve a strategy for de-radicalization of youth. Scholars will be invited to deliver talks in Urdu (Hindi). The talks will involve a small audience with the key purpose to record and disseminate the lecture widely among the youth.
For further details, visit the related link at IPSS website:
ISLAMABAD: Renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir on Sunday refused to continue as former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani’s counsel in the memogate case, DawnNews reported.
Asma Jahangir said that she did not trust the commission formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the memo-scandal, alleging that the Supreme Court judges were under the establishment’s influence.
Asma also told DawnNews in an exclusive interview that Hussain Haqqani feared the powerful spy agencies may force him into giving a statement. This fear was the reason behind the former ambassador’s stay at the prime minister’s house, she said.
Moreover, she said that the Supreme Court’s decision on the memogate petition was a victory for the country’s establishment. The law was being used to transform the country into a ‘security state’, she said.
The World Sindhi Institute (WSI) Condemns the Murder of the members of Sindhi Hindu Community
PRESS RELEASE (November 11, 2011)- Board members of the World Sindhi Institute in a joint statement strongly condemn the brutal murder of the three Sindhi doctors of Sindhi Hindu community in Chak town of Shikarpur, calling it a crime against the very fabric of the Sindhi Society which has been the symbol of religious tolerance in the entire sub-continent.
The members showed their deep concern over the growing intolerance in Pakistan where both legal system and social environment are increasingly becoming hostile to the minorities, leaving them helpless and vulnerable.
Echoing the sentiments of civil society in Pakistan, the WSI demanded a speedy justice to the families of victims and appealed to both federal and provincial government to play their due role in furthering the cause of peace, religious tolerance, and Human Rights in Pakistan. They further demanded the complete abolition of Blasphemy-law, which has become a tool in the hands of those who want to radicalize the society and silence all voices of reason.
WSI appeals to all political parties, representatives of civil society, legal community, networks of journalist, and enlighten individuals in Pakistan to join hands to defeat this fresh wave of violence against minorities and run a sustained campaign for the protection of human rights in Sindh and the rest of Pakistan.
– The ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate
Recently, a police SHO barged into Nairang Gallery located on Jail Road, Lahore, which is an art gallery-cum-rendezvous spot for the city’s social and cultural elite, intelligentsia and artistic and bohemian classes, and harassed the staff as well as visitors and customers present for violating the ‘holiness’ of Ramzan. According to him, food and beverages were being served there during fasting hours. He also objected to the attire of the female staff and customers there, calling it revealing and thus un-Islamic, and against the sacredness of Ramzan. He did not like both genders mixing freely either. He misbehaved with and even manhandled the female curator of the gallery. This incident has stirred a wave of condemnation and protest from civil society and the cultured classes.
This kind of forced ‘sanctification’ of Ramzan is a routine matter in small cities and towns in Pakistan. Such highhandedness by the authorities in small places is seldom reported in the media. For instance, the following incident, which, somehow, did get reported in a leading daily may give a faint idea as to what kind of thrusting of one’s values on others is prevalent in our society.
On September 16, 2009, during the month of Ramzan, about two dozen people were made to parade semi-naked in a market place in Mianwali, with their hands tied by the clothes stripped off their bodies, on the orders of a deputy district officer before they were put into the lockup. The guilt of those subjected to this humiliation was that they were caught sipping tea at some tea stalls at the railway station and bus stands during fasting timings.
This act of disgracing human beings reminds one of the black days of General Zia when ‘Ramzan violators’ were given similar treatment by the authorities, by painting their faces black or shaving their heads in public. But the irony of the matter is that this practice continues even during the government of a supposedly secular and moderate political party. However, with events like the one that took place in Mianwali, one fails to find the difference between the present regime and that of Zia.
According to the present laws, the administration grants special permission to some eateries to serve food and tea to patients, travellers, etc, during the fast. The above action against alleged Ramzan violators by the local administration of Mianwali raises two questions. First, how did the police establish that the alleged Ramzan violators were not patients or travellers? Second, how would a patient or a traveller know that the eatery serving food and beverages during fasting timings does not have such permission from the administration? Obviously, a customer would presume that such an eatery has permission. He would not demand to see the license first before ordering any eatables. The customer could be an uneducated person who may not even be able to read such a paper issued by the administration to the eatery. Then why were those citizens of Pakistan punished by the authorities?
Before the black year of 1977 — when Zia took over Pakistan — all restaurants here served food and beverages during fasting hours in Ramzan. The only difference was that during Ramzan, the doors and windows of the eateries were covered with thick curtains so that those who were fasting and passing by the restaurant were not tempted by the eating and drinking activities going on inside the eatery.
Since the inception of Pakistan till the government of the PPP before Zia’s coup, the above-mentioned norm remained in practice. After the PPP’s regaining of power in 1988, many draconian laws and practices from Zia’s regime were undone. Unfortunately, however, the ‘forced fasting’ of Zia’s time, like many other such laws, was never reversed by the PPP despite its third time in power. The reason could be that during Zia’s years, the fundamentalists became so powerful that they were now the masters of the country’s fate.
In any civilised society, it is considered an individual’s prerogative to follow a certain religious practice or not. Many people in the cities of Pakistan live forced bachelor lives away from their native towns. Even living in their home towns, many people have their work places situated far away from their homes. The only source of food and beverage for such people is the eateries. Many from amongst them suffer various medical conditions that force them to eat and drink regularly. For instance, a diabetic person has to eat at regular intervals to maintain his blood sugar level. A kidney patient has to take a lot of liquids to flush his kidneys. A person suffering from low blood pressure can faint without sufficient salt intake. There are so many other instances where the old, sick and weak have to indulge in a normal food and beverage intake to live. Where would such people go if they are not even allowed to drink water outside their homes? Thirst and hunger can be felt at any time whether one is in the concealment of a house or moving out in the open.
If fasting is a religious duty then so is offering prayers. In the ‘model’ police state of Saudi Arabia, clergymen called mutawas go about the streets and market places with sticks in their hands during prayer times and harass and even beat up people to join prayer offerings in the nearby mosque. Why is Pakistan this one step behind Saudi Arabia? If laws here force people to follow one religious duty, why do they not make them follow the other one too?
What is a Taliban mindset? It is to impose one’s religious values on others. The laws of Pakistan overlap with Taliban laws. Let us admit that we are living in a semi-Taliban state, which may become a full Taliban state one day.
Courtesy: → Daily Times
– by Iqbal Tareen
Given rising threats to the integrity of Sindh, we must focus ondisciplining ourselves to become a formidable force against divisive and hate driven groups in our land.
I must caution everyone not to resort to knee jerk reaction but leverage power of logic and reason to face partitionist forces in Sindh. It is obvious that their game is designed to create a welcome situation for a military takeover lasting for another 10 years.
At the same time I urge every Sindhi (Who believes that he/she is Sindhi) to prepare for a long drawn moral fight against demonic forces who spread hate, fear, and intimidation in the land of Latif, Sachal and Saami. Every Sindhi (Who believes that he/she is Sindhi) child, adult, women, and men must prepare to defend the sovereignty of unified Sindh.
We must defend peace and brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women living in Sindh without any discrimination based on religion, race, or ethnic origin.
We must defend Sindh & Sindhi nation’s heritage of peace, tolerance, and inclusiveness even if we have to fight until death.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 4th August, 2011.
Another amazing program by Najam Sethi. Only he can dare to talk about establishment like he is talking in this program about the political assassinations in Pakistan.
In nutshell:- 1. Laiqat Ali Khan was assassinated by civil and military bureaucracy. 2. General Zia ul Haq was killed by top civil-military bureaucracy. In both cases investigations were covered up, derailed and stopped and in both cases blame was passed on to foreign elements but in reality those were local conspiracies. Thank you Najam Sethi Saheb for this daring to talk show against the devil – the Military Mullah Alliance. Undoubtedly Najam Sethi is true, when he says that the security establishment is the main reason of the plight of the people of Pakistan. The language of the program is urdu/ Hindi.
Courtesy: Geo TV (Apas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi and Muneeb Farooq, 9th March, 2010)
By Aijaz Ahmed
The more unusual and astonishing was the participation of the “principled’ opposition leader, Ch Nisar Ali khan and his friendly discussion with ex-military dictator Musharraf’s ‘political adopted babies’ like Ch. Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain whom PML-N considers its enemies! The sole reason given by the PML-N was the discussion on political developments in of course the ‘national interest’! …
Read more : Indus Herald
by Samir Yousif
Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.
The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.
(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.
I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).
“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …
Ripe for revolution? – By Mahreen Khan
…. Despite a wave of public protests, Egypt is unlikely to emulate Tunisia, due to factors also present in Pakistan. Egypt has a sharp religious divide between Coptics and Muslims as well as numerous Islamic groups pitted against each other. Arab analysts cite low levels of literacy and a general feeling of apathy and defeatism in the population as further reasons that Egypt will continue to fester rather than revolt. Pakistan has these and additional factors which militate against a revolution: deep and multiple ethnic, linguistic, tribal and sectarian fault lines; a paucity of alternative intellectual narratives, radical leaders or strong unions; and an elected government and freedom of speech. Ironically, democratic elections and free speech help perpetuate the corrupt, unjust stranglehold of the feudal-industrial power elite. Revolutionary forces require a moral impetus that illegitimate dictatorship provides but elected government does not. Secondly, frustration needs to simmer under a repressive regime until it reaches the temperature for mass revolt. Pakistan’s free media allows an outlet for public dissatisfaction. The often harsh treatment of politicians and police officials at the hands of journalists and judges ameliorates public anger. Vocal opposition parties, unhindered street protests and strikes allow a regular release of fury, draining the momentum necessary for the emotional surge that revolutionary zeal requires. …
Read more : The Express Tribune
See how Muslim clerics omit verses and parts of verses of Holy Quran, Surah Ahzaab (chapter 33) to falsely accuse Quran that Death Sentence for blasphemy is a Quranic Commandment. This is how they misguide the people that Quran prescribes punishment of death for blasphemy.
by Farid Ahmad
Sitting in the middle of load-shedding, watching the political theater roll-on ad infinitum, and reading the news of another security incident somewhere, it is easy to be depressed about Pakistan these days.
Depression, however, is parasitic.
It jumps from person to person and grows in strength unless treated. It makes you weak and vulnerable and sometimes it is necessary to break the circle. Yes, Pakistan is going through very tough times, but there is no reason to throw all hope to the wind and to start denying the things that are going right and a lot has gone right in the past twenty or so years.
First, the necessary disclaimer: The intention here is not to sweep Pakistan’s problems under the rug or to try and rationalize away the immense suffering of the victims of recent violence and economic turmoil. There is no doubt that things have taken a very serious turn in recent months and millions of people are paying a heavy price every day.
With that disclaimer in place, here’s a collection of things that I have seen change for the better in my life in Pakistan – from high-school in the eighties to today.
It is necessarily a very personal list, though others might be able to relate to some of it. Traveling apart, Iâ€™ve spent my life living in Islamabad and Lahore and my memories are naturally specific to these places. So again, Iâ€™m fully conscious of the fact that not everyone can relate to or agree with my attempt at optimism.
But even if I come across as being overly optimistic, it is only to counter those who are becoming unnecessarily pessimistic.
Maybe you have your own stories, your own inspirations, your own rays of hope that keep you going… these are mine. And I share them with the hope that they will help someone else break out of the circle of pessimism.
Roads: 1989: Driving from Lahore to Islamabad was an ordeal on the mostly single-lane, badly maintained GT road.
2010: Driving from Lahore to Islamabad is a pleasure on the motorway. And it is not just this one road, a lot of roads have been added to the network or improved. I know people in my office in Islamabad who routinely drive to Karachi with their families. We need many more roads â€“ but we have certainly not been sitting idle.
Communications: 1989: Calling from Islamabad to Lahore meant going to the market to a PCO, telling the guy to book a 3-minute call and waiting around till it got connected. Even if you had an STD line at home, your fingers were likely to get sore from dialing before you got connected. And once the call was connected you watched the clock like a hawk as it was so expensive.
2010: Instant, cheap calls worldwide for everyone from cellular phones.
Internet: 1995: I was first introduced to the wonders of Email in 1995. It was an offline ‘store and forward’ system (remember those @sdnpk email addresses?) . If you sent a mail in the morning, it reached in the evening when your Email provider called USA on a direct line to forward it.
2010: Broadband, DSL, WiMax, Dialup, Cable – instant connectivity for everyone. More generally, I’ve gone thru a series of denials about the adoption of new technologies in Pakistan. I went through thinking that cellular phones would never gain widespread adoption – I was wrong; that internet would remain a niche – I was wrong; that broadband would never take off here – I was wrong; that Blackberry would never be adopted – I was wrong. Here I speak from some experience as I work for a cellular company and Iâ€™ve seen all these numbers grow exponentially. The fact is that Pakistan and Pakistanis love technology and are eager to adopt and adapt the latest technologies as soon as they become available. With its huge population, this creates a large market for every new technology in Pakistan and businesses rush in to fill it. This bodes well for the future. ….
Read more : Pakistaniat
by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Due to some recent events in Pakistan, the issue of blasphemy is again in the news. It is generally held that Islam prescribes capital punishment for those who commit blasphemy; that is, using abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. But this is quite untrue. According to Islam, blasphemy is simply a misuse of freedom and not a cognisable offence; the blasphemer is not liable to incur legal punishment. This kind of law has no basis in Islamic scriptures. If someone uses abusive language against the Prophet, Muslims must take it as a case of misunderstanding, and then try to remove this misunderstanding. They are required to do so by engaging in discussion or by providing the blasphemer with Islamic literature that gives the true image of the Prophet of Islam.
To use abusive language against the Prophet or to praise him are both a matter of one’s own choice. Whatever the choice, it is in God’s domain to pass judgment on it. Muslims have nothing to do in this situation except try to remove the misunderstanding and then leave the rest to God.
If there is such a case – which could be called blasphemy – and in anger one tries to punish the offender, one is simply reacting negatively to the situation. And acting in this way is looked upon with extreme disfavour in Islam. Islam always tries to go to the root cause of any given problem.
When one abuses the Prophet of Islam, it is most probably due to some kind of provocation. Without provocation, this kind of negative attitude is extremely unlikely. That is why the Quran advises Muslims to get at the real reason.
The Quran points to one such root cause behind this kind of act and urges Muslims to try to come to grips with it: “But do not revile those (beings) whom they invoke instead of God, lest they, in their hostility, revile God out of ignorance.” (6:108)
It is on the record that, during the Prophet’s time, there were some non-believers who used to use abusive language against the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet of Islam never suggested any legal punishment for those persons. He simply directed them to one of his companions, Hassan bin Sabit al-Ansari, who would respond to their blasphemous statements and remove their misunderstanding by means of argument. Islam suggests capital punishment for only one offence, and that is murder.
Read more : The Times of India
We published two photo galleries on BBC’s Urdu website last Friday. One on the Jamaat-e-Islami’s youth wing Shabab-e-Milli’s tribute to Mumtaz Qadri’s father in Rawalpindi and the other on the candlelit vigil in Lahore in memory of the slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.
As expected, comments started to pour in almost instantly. The most telling among them simply said: “Please compare the crowd in the two, for every Taseer mourner, there are at least 50 Qadri supporters.” If nothing else, it says a lot about the state of siege in which liberal opinion finds itself, as more and more people flock behind Mr Qadri, a cold-blooded killer who had been painstakingly planning Taseer’s murder for weeks before he struck.
Irrespective of the number of people who gathered for the vigil in Lahore, I am stunned at their courage in standing up to a crazed mob that neither understands its religion nor the man who brought it to them. It is a mob of moral cheats that has become religiously, politically, intellectually and morally so bankrupt that it seems to have convinced itself that its only salvation lies in baying for innocent blood.
Let us give ourselves some idea of how courageous the dozens who flocked to the vigil in Lahore really are. Since the glowing tribute paid to Qadri by lawyers at his first court appearance, we have been trying to contact the lawyer leadership that spearheaded the civil society movement only three years ago to bring down General Musharraf’s dictatorship. In that movement, millions around the world saw the seeds of a politics that Pakistan has desperately been waiting for all its life — a politics that flows from the combined intellect of the mobile middle class instead of dynastic politics, hereditary constituencies and endemic corruption.
Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood became household names as tens of thousands of people rallied behind them wherever they went. For weeks, no political talk show in the country was considered complete without at least one of them in the chair. Since Taseer’s murder, they simply seemed to have vanished into thin air.
We finally managed to get through to two of them: one simply said that we are free to call him a coward if we want to but he doesn’t want to comment on the issue at all. The other one went even further: he said he would not even allow us to report that he was contacted for his opinion on the issue.
Predictably, Asma Jahangir was the honourable exception who not only spoke in detail about the atrocity against Taseer but was candid and unambiguous in her criticism of the legal fraternity’s sudden gush for a killer. But then, one has always known her to be one of the bravest women in the country.
Which brings to mind another brave woman who dared to bring a bill to the National Assembly aimed at amending some of the more draconian provisions of a law that has spawned nothing but injustice in the quarter century of its existence. Our crazed mob has distributed pamphlets advocating that she must meet the same fate as Mr Taseer. I am proud to have worked for her at Herald for six years. She was one of the bravest editors I know. Today, she has been forced into abandoning her public life by the tyranny of bloodthirsty criminals masquerading as religious zealots.
President Asif Ali Zardari’s administration has already surrendered to these criminals. It is pointless to expect him to fight this battle. However unfortunate as it may be for the liberals, they do not have the luxury to follow suit. They have to go on fighting even if their battle is far more dangerous than the one Pakistan has been fighting in its tribal areas for the last 10 years.
… All signs point to fascism
While Taseer’s body was being riddled with bullets, the other guards stayed inactive.
(The infiltration of the security and the armed forces by the Islamic elements has been a known fact since the late 1970s when General Zia-ul-Haq was in power.)
The reason given by the assassin was Taseer’s criticism of the blasphemy law. According to Qadri’s lawyer, Saimul Haq Satti, Qadri told him: “I am proud of it.” …
Read more: Globeistan
by Aziz Narejo, TX
Does anybody see any hope for Pakistan anymore? Religious extremism that started with Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Liaquat Ali Khan & Objectives Resolution (1949) & then Jamat-e-Islami, JI’s riots against Ahmedis in 50s, declaration of Ahmedis as non muslims, right-wing movement against PPP & progressive elements & Zia’s Islamisation, seem to have overtaken any & all the reason & soon will destroy the country – in a horrible bloodshed.