The Op-eds

Op-eds

2016

 

Essay:                                     A nation of hate robots

…Discrimination against Ahmadis for jobs, renting out houses or doing business is rampant. Public display of hatred came to light recently when the police arrested a shopkeeper from Hafeez Centre in Gulberg Lahore for barring Ahmadis from entering his premises.                                         

 Mohammad Waseem in The News of January 17, 2016

Op-ed:                                    Beyond anti-Ahmadi 2nd amendment

…The constitutional safeguards offer no protection and guarantee no rights against this criminalisation of the very existence of Ahmadis. It can only be undone by revisiting the debates and processes that criminalised the religious and political identity of Ahmadis. Until and unless this happens, people like Shakoor bhai will continue to suffer.

Ali Usman Qasmi in The News of January 24, 2016

Editorial:                              Embedded hatreds

… Indeed, it is difficult to find a case anywhere in the country where anybody has been prosecuted for an offence against a member of the Ahmadi community. They are attacked in their homes, as they walk the streets or in the workplace.

The attacks are frequently seen by multiple witnesses who are able to identify the attackers but all to no avail. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the state is tolerant of such attacks, and is if not complicit directly then willing at an institutional level to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Anybody that questions this assumption rapidly finds himself in hot water.

The Express Tribune; June 22, 2016

Op-ed:            Shrinking space for debate

… Historians working on the 2nd Amendment have, for example, pointed out how the PPP government at the time eventually had the law passed in the wake of protests from the Religious Right and other opposition parties, at a time when other was a perceived need to deflect attention away from India’s first nuclear test and cultivate the support of orthodox Sunni states like Saudi Arabia. Rather than being a response to some kind of popular, democratic demand to resolve a thorny theological issue, the PPP government’s passage of the 2nd Amendment was simply the cynical and opportunistic use of religion to acquire legitimacy, stave off the threat posed by the opposition parties, and appease potential foreign patrons. Finding out how a law was produced by political pressure and factors, thereby creating the possibility of bias and error should not be forbidden, nor should it be assumed that the passage of a religious law automatically imbues that law with some kind of divine.

                                                                                    Hassan Javid in The Nation

Op-ed:                       Different path

… Ahmadis have been fair game, for abuse, torture and even murder, for a long time in Pakistan. It is not just that the state of Pakistan has declared them non-Muslims. People of this community also continue to face institutional and state level discrimination, and there is almost an incessant barrage of verbal and written hatred spewed against them by certain mainstream sections of our society. No wonder, like other minorities, many have chosen to leave the country and settle elsewhere.

As Faiz asked, is this the ‘dawn’ we set out looking for? Our elders did want a homeland for Muslims. But, was it this sort of society and states that we wanted?

                                    Faisal Bari in the daily Mashriq; June 19, 2016

Article by Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: Cow worshippers chew up the rule of law

A magisterial/judicial order directing the police to register a first information report and investigate a (Muslim) family that lost its provider in a mob lynching would seem impossible for anyone living in a rule of law system. But in the self-designated largest democracy of the world, this is what happened on 14 July 2016.

…And all this while similar lynch mobs committing such ‘beef murders’ across India on mere suspicion. They happened in Jharkhand, in Haryana, in Himachal Pradesh, and elsewhere, with perpetrators hardly ever brought to book. The last of these beef murders occurred in Una, Gujarat, wherein the perpetrators were brazen enough to beat up 4 Dalit youths right in front of a police station.

…Why does the same judiciary fail to do justice to the victims of criminal lynch mobs that are often referred to as cow vigilante groups in the media by taking the criminal tag away? The answer to this question exposes the façade that the justice system of the country has successfully maintained despite its gigantic failures in delivering justice to the poor and the needy. It has failed the victims of mass violence repeatedly: remember sectarian carnages from Nellie in Assam, Delhi, or Gujarat. It has also repeatedly failed to deliver justice to victims of other mob crimes, more so if they are poor and needy.

AHRC-ART-037-2016 on July 15, 2016

Op-ed:            When did Pakistan change from being a liberal country to a fundamentalist one?

…Promises by Jinnah were jettisoned for the sake of political expediency, and sectarianism became state policy. Dr. Ayesha Jalal has hinted in her book Struggle for Pakistan that Saudi Arabia might have been behind the decision (to declare Ahmadis Non-Muslim). They had apparently conditioned their support for Pakistan’s nuclear program on this decision. Whatever the case, Saudi influence began raising its tentacles during Bhutto’s government.

….Yet, as Jinnah used to say, nothing is permanent in life. The people of the Indus valley have a glorious past that goes back 8000 years. Extremism has never lasted in this region in its history. The radicalization that General Zia has brought about will ultimately be a passing phenomenon. I have no doubt that the posterity will undo the harms done to Pakistan in the last 30 years and will hark back to Jinnah’s words on August 11, 1947, as the right and proper vision. Of that there can be no doubt. Future Pakistanis will revisit, revise and re-order their state according to that vision.

Yasser Latif Hamdani in The Express Tribune on August 14, 2016

Op-ed:            Death by committee

…As Mr. Janjua will be reporting directly to the prime minister, the interior minister’s role will be much diminished. And about time too. His contribution in the fight against terrorism has been abysmal, as pointed out recently by Zahid Hussain in his column. He has fought tooth and nail against going after the jihadi hideouts in Punjab, and has proved an abject failure in coordinating intelligence as called for NAP. But his biggest failing has been in the areas concerning the ideological aspects of terrorism. Under NAP, all madrassahs were to be registered and regulated; hate speech was to be halted; a dedicated anti-terror force established, banned organizations were to be prevented from re-emerging under different names, financing for terror networks was to be chocked off; administrative reforms in Fata were to be carried out; there was supposed to be zero tolerance for militancy in Punjab; curricula were to be reviewed to remove extremist content; and the criminal justice system was to be revamped and reformed.

Over a year and a half after these ringing declarations were approved by almost all political parties and incorporated into NAP, none have been implemented. Small wonder, then, that Gen Raheel Sharif recently vented his dissatisfaction over the non-implementation of NAP publicly. With hundreds of soldiers dying in the war against a deadly foe, the military is justified in voicing its frustration over politicians dragging their feet.

We all remember his brother Shahbaz Sharif plaintively pleading with the Taliban to leave Punjab alone. And to an extent, this strategy has worked; apart from attacks in the province on Ahmadis, Christians and Shia, the militants have largely targeted KP, Karachi and Quetta.

Irfan Hussain in the daily Dawn of August 20, 2016

AHRC statement:       Pakistan:  Prevention of Electronic Crime Act is draconian

Notorious for its enactment of arbitrary laws such as the Hudood ordinance, Blasphemy laws and the Protection of Pakistan Act, the Pakistan government has now added the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2015 to the increasing list of laws infringing upon citizens’ fundamental freedoms. The bill has been approved by both the houses and sent to the President for final approval as law. Though this bill was under discussion for the past two years, in a dramatic move it was quickly passed by the standing committee on Information Technology, headed by a senator from the Awami National Party, which has always remained against such draconian laws. Rights groups believe that the bill was passed due to pressure from the security establishment.

According to rights groups, the Electronic Crime bill has draconian provisions that will blatantly infringe upon fundamental rights that are guaranteed under the Constitution. The proposed bill criminalizes activities such as sending text messages without the receiver’s consent, or criticizing government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment. Industry representatives have argued that the bill would harm business as well. Online criticism of religion, the country, its courts, and the armed forces are among the subjects that could invoke official intervention under the bill.

… Not only is the bill arbitrary, it is also severely unjust. The wordings of the law are overly vague; many experts have warned that the law will open floodgate of frivolous litigation on behalf of the state against dissenters, and atrocities to harass them….

It is ironic that Pakistan’s electronic media was given more freedom under the dictatorial regime of President Pervaiz Musharraf, rather than the present civilian government bent on robbing citizens of their rights. Strangling free speech on the internet may backfire for a nation already sick of being muzzled and oppressed by the state. No state that denies its citizens the right to freedom of expression can last long. Such states are doomed to disintegrate and collapse under their own contradictory strangleholds.

AHRC-STM-113-2016 of 2 August 2016

Statement:       Pakistan:  Religious minority representation in political process conspicuously absent

In Pakistan, the Hindu, Christian, Ahmadi and Hazara Shia communities are marginalized and ostracized, socially and economically. Of all the minority groups, Ahmadis bear the most brunt. A constitutional amendment of 1974 declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims. But since they don’t accept their new status, they stay away from electoral process.

(A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission)

AHRC-STM-130-2016 of 2 September, 2016

Op-ed: Neo’s hate speech and PEMRA’s inaction

It is a matter of great shame for us as Pakistanis that we allowed those foulmouthed traitors from Majlis-e-Ahrar to flourish in the country time and time again. In my opinion, Jan is one of these enemies of Pakistan. He is a self-serving civil servant who is allowed, against the law, to lie and pollute innocent minds day in and day out. The sooner we realise this and reject dishonest people like him, the sooner we will set ourselves on a course correction. The least we can do, till such a day approaches, is to rein in hate speech against a community that has been forcibly declared a minority in the country they were in no small measure instrumental in achieving. Unfortunately, there is no moral courage from top to bottom in this country. This is not Jinnah’s Pakistan that has died many deaths at the hands of opportunists who had branded Jinnah kafir-e-azam in his lifetime.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/12-Sep-16/neos-hate-speech-and-pemras-inaction

Statement:   PAKISTAN: September 7: One of the darkest days in the history of Pakistan

The 7th September is one of the darkest days in the history of Pakistan when religion was firmly included to be the basis of the state affairs. This laid the foundation of unprecedented discrimination, abhorrence and violence against other religions, other sects or other interpretations of religion that did not conform the religious interpretations of the perpetrators of this change.

42 years ago, in 1974 on this day the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed whereby the Ahmadis, the followers of Ahmadi sect, were declared to be non-Muslims in Pakistan. By virtue of the amendment the State has been given arbitrary powers to determine who is a Muslim and who is not. Instead of providing the right of freedom of religion and faith to its citizens, this was a systematic and conscious design to curb human rights and freedom of religious beliefs.

As a result of this change the influence of fundamentalist forces to run the state affairs and how people should follow their beliefs reached to unprecedented levels. The zeal and the fervor with which Youm-e-Khatam-e- Nabuwwat (The Day of Finality of Prophethood), marked on September 7, is celebrated as a manifestation of the fundamentalist mind-set so prevalent in the country.

AHRC-STM-137-2016 of 8 September 2016

Editorial                                 Aasia Bibi’s case

…It is regrettable that the case of one woman has become so intertwined with political and religious sentiment that judges feel their verdicts will be seen as compromised. The blame for that lies in a society that has accepted the blasphemy laws being manipulated for personal ends and an extremist element that threatens, and in many cases commits, violence against those who merely want the laws to be amended so that false accusations are not so easy to make. It is now past time to develop the will and the courage to set right what is wrong.

                                                    The daily, The News International, October 15, 2016   

Op-ed:            Unholy campaign against a senior general

… As per Report, senior military sources have conveyed that it is now an unwritten policy that no person of Qadiani Community can ever become a lieutenant general … because, on this issue, on account of its sensitive perception in public, various checks have been put in place. For any training or joining a course, almost every year, a Muslim officer is required to fill in a form wherein he has to clearly convey that he has firm faith in the finality of prophethood (PBUH) and is not a member of Qadiani Community. …

Naveed Masud Hashmi in the daily Ausaf, November 28, 2016

Op-ed:            Pakistan’s forced conversion

According to the Aurat Foundation, around 1,000 girls, primarily Hindus and Christians are forcibly converted to Islam each year. Many of these are under the age of 18 and are married off to Muslims, or forced into bonded labour.

In its annual report for 2016, the United States commission on Religious freedom has urged the American government to list Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, a CCP is a nation guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

This is why the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) a constitutionally sanctioned advisory body, has on record upheld nine years as the eligible marriage age, supported marital rape and abuse against women and now recently passed a resolution against Sindh government banning forced conversions.

Needless to mention Islamic scriptures were used to support all these verdicts.

In the civilized world, a group exhibiting such a wide array of violent bigotry would’ve been proscribed for inciting hate crimes. In Pakistan they issue verdicts over state legislations. But then again, where actually proscribed individuals are being elected to the Parliament, it perhaps doesn’t make much difference.

Last year, the CII mulled whether the Ahmadis were merely non-Muslims or apostates. The latter would mean that the entire community was ‘wajib-ul-qatl (liable to be murdered).

Right next to the parliament, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a group of government appointed officials discussed the genocide of an entire religious community.

Khuldun Shahid in The Nation of December 20, 2016

 

2015

 Op-ed:                      The litmus test

…Pakistan was not created in the name of Islam. This a historical lie fed to us and is the basic issue with the imagination of Pakistan as a nation state. Pakistan was created because the two main representative parties in the subcontinent could not agree on the constitution of a united India.

…Another outrage against the Hazaras is completely unacceptable. No Shia doctor or scholar should be killed with impunity in the future. The Auqaf department of the Punjab government should stop funding conventions of hate-filled mullahs calling for the killing of Ahmadis.

Not only should the state ensure that there is no incitement in any of the content, it should also ensure that hate speech of all kinds is mercilessly put down. No doubt, this has implications for freedom of speech, but worse than no freedom of speech is selective freedom of speech. The freedom to abuse minority groups like the Ahmadis is a case of selective freedom of speech because Ahmadis are forbidden even from defending themselves. The same applies across the board. I would rather that there be no hate speech than partial freedom of speech.

Y.L. Hamdani in the Daily Times; Lahore, January 12, 2015

Op-ed:                  Heading our sectarian divide

…Pakistan’s early years were largely peaceful, except for occasional flare-ups around Ashura time. Intermarriages were fairly common, and Shias had joined orthodox Sunnis into enthusiastically supporting Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s 1974 decision to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim.

But, in a curious flip of history a 2012 Pew Global Survey shows that 41 percent of respondents in Pakistan believe that Shias are non-Muslim…

Pervez Hoodbhoy in the daily Dawn of February 21, 2015

Op-ed:                  Extremism versus tolerance

The objective resolution of 1949, for the first time, clearly highlighted the Islamic character of the Pakistani State. This resolution was passed against the opposition of the minority members in the legislative assembly at that time. Religious parties like Jamaat-e-Islami who initially opposed the creation of Pakistan, became very close to the army, and played an important role in dictating the Islamic agenda. The Jamaat spearheaded the anti-Ahmadi riots of 1950s, and the creation of Al-Shams and AL Badr in East Pakistan in 1971. The Jamaat-e-Islami was an important partner of Zia regime in its initial years.

These retrogressive religious forces forced even a secular and pro-socialist leader like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to do their bidding. The declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims was the most important of these decisions. Pakistan thus became the first and perhaps the only country in the world to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims.

The self-serving and opportunistic Islamic policies of general Zia gave a further fill up to overt religiosity leading to religious extremism. On the external front Zia involved Pakistan neck deep in the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet invasion.

Akbar Jan Marwat in the daily The News of March 15, 2015

Op-ed       :               So many states of war

We have failed to create this harmony. The number of conflicts seems in fact to be increasing. Some have virtually been forgotten – such as the one which pushes the Ahmadis into an entirely different category of people, deprived of the right to vote and labeled according to the will of the state. The mindset that we see all around us suggests the same treatment could be meted out to others. This would be a massive disaster, one that would take us into shadows from which it may be difficult to escape.

This is not a sustainable situation. It will in the end inevitably destroy us and we can already see this happening with each new incident of terrorism, each new report of violence and each new act which lessens the little stability we still enjoy and weakens the bonds which hold us together. These bonds are in danger of falling apart.

Kamila Hyat in the daily The News; April 23, 2015

Op-ed:              Scorning our successes

Malala Yousafzai, Dr Abdus Salam, Pervez Hoodbhoy. What are these three people known for? Well, one is a teenage Western agent, the second a discredited scientist and Ahmadi infidel, and the third a ‘jahil’ apostate. That characterisation of Pervez Hoodbhoy was made by Ansar Abbassi, who reinforced the point not by any semblance of an argument, but by repeating the word ‘jahil’ to describe the nuclear physicist no less than 29 times in three minutes on a talk show discussing Malala’s first book. (See for yourself; who can blame you for not believing me?) The other physicist, Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam, was described as an infidel of the Muslim religion for being part of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, a tiny Islamic sect viciously and relentlessly persecuted in the country. When he died, his gravestone read ‘First Muslim Nobel Laureate’. A local magistrate ordered that the word ‘Muslim’ be erased, inflicting one final ignominy upon Pakistan’s greatest scientist.

http://nation.com.pk/business/13-jun-2015/scorning by Dr Asad Raza

Op-ed:              The Ahmadi question

In other words, Ahmadis are actually paying for their efforts in the Pakistan movement and for their extraordinary services to the country, symbolized by the likes of Dr Abdus Salam, MM Ahmad and Atif Mian, who changed the perception of Pakistan on the international front. However, back home, they are treated like outcasts because the right wing refuses to give space to anyone and has hijacked religion. They see the success of Ahmadis as a direct threat to their monopoly on the political narrative.

Hence, what is happening at Hafeez Centre is nothing new. It demonstrates the continuation of sporadic agitation against the Ahmadis — a community that is still somehow managing to remain afloat, perhaps because most of its members have quietly left the country that they helped establish. Those that are still in Pakistan live in constant fear. Given that one can get arrested for reciting holy scriptures if one is an Ahmadi, but can roam freely for killing minorities if belonging to a banned organization, goes to show the nation’s moral compass. Under the National Action Plan, the state is supposed to define what sort of ideology it wants to promote in the country. As long as murderers and terrorists can roam freely and innocent minorities are stigmatized, we are unconsciously promoting chances of the likes of the Islamic State to emerge right here in Pakistan and it won’t be long before extremist groups in the country will pledge their allegiance to groups that want to topple the state and establish a caliphate in Pakistan.

It is the people of Pakistan who need to decide whether their country is under threat from a community that has served Pakistan in the areas of politics, development and science or from groups that conduct hate rallies against everyone they see as threats to their monopoly on religion. The sooner we realize who the country and our religion is really under threat from, the better we’ll be able to save society from total collapse.

                                    Hussain Nadim in The Express Tribune, December 19, 2015

Op-ed:              History and our national imagination

…Reliance on a religious national narrative grants the religiously affiliated groups disproportionate symbolic power in setting the national agenda.

By way of example, I would like to point to a news clip of Imran Khan that I saw during the PTI dharna in Islamabad. In one of his speeches, Khan had suggested that he would bring in Professor Atif Mian (an Ahmadi) as his economic advisor. Of course, the religious TV networks immediately went after him for proposing such a thing, forcing him to go on the defensive.

Now, Imran Khan is a national leader. He has the power to reshape the national narrative. He can even force the march of history towards a more progressive future. So, ideally, his answer should have been simply this, “Dr Atif is a Pakistani! If he is qualified for the job, his religion should not make a difference.” To be fair, though, toward the end of this interview, he did say that all Pakistanis should have equal rights under the law. My point here is not to deride Khan, but to point out that the symbolic power of religious narratives is so great that even the leader of the most resurgent and powerful political party has to toe the line.

Dr Masood Ashraf Raja in the weekly The Friday Times of November 6-12, 2015

Op-ed:              A secular vision for Pakistan

The National Assembly of Pakistan last week passed a resolution endorsing Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11 speech as the road map for the country in dealing with its minority communities. The resolution should be welcomed by every Pakistani who opposes the state’s use of religion as a marker of identity of its people and wants the state to guarantee fundamental rights (enshrined in Articles 8-28 of the Constitution) to the citizens without regard to their [religious] beliefs and practices. It demonstrates that a section of the political elite (represented to various degrees in all three major political parties) of the country is cognisant of the plight of its minority religious communities.

Umair Rasheed in the daily The Express Tribune; August 23, 2015

Op-ed:              Shortcuts and favourite trails are of no use

…Your anger is justified but when will you understand that a tree doesn’t lose weight by shedding leaves, until uprooted? According to Israeli former prime minister Gen (rtd) Ehud Barak, you cannot defeat terrorism without a two-prong basic strategy. Firstly, whatever the ideology, what effective counter-narrative and alternative attractions do you possess in response to terrorists, and secondly, whether you can think at least 1.5 times faster than the terrorists? Pipe down if you don’t have both. ‘Arm your mind and it will find weapons on its own’, said Mao. Terrorists are already doing this; are you also prepared to approve Mao’s philosophy? You are harping on counter-narrative, but are you firstly prepared to cleanse your educational syllabus of extremism? Also, what do you want to build upon? Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan of 11 August 1947 or Pakistan of Objectives Resolution, post Jinnah? Choose one, and tailor all legal, educational, ideological and practical systems accordingly. May be this will provide partial recovery.

Today’s exhausted, confused, scared and frightened Pakistan is essentially an offspring of the forced marriage between 11 August’s speech and Objectives Resolution. If this bond is maintained, this child will get nowhere. Hence, either this child be given in the custody of 11 August’s speech or in complete supervision of Objectives Resolution. I have no idea of the importance of making final decisions early. However, it is much better to do one task at a time than to handle badly numerous problems simultaneously. We need to pass through the junction of effective legal and social justice on the journey to uproot terrorism. No shortcuts or favourite trails help on this journey. Delay can only cause further delay. (Yesterday was the 27th death anniversary of Zia ul Haq. May God bestow high reward on him, and today is the 8th anniversary of Pervez Musharraf’s presidency; may God fully reward him too for his valuable national services!)

Wusatullah Khan in the daily Mashriq, August 19, 2015

Op-ed:              Fighting the status quo with JI

Even in recent years, Mansoora does not stand cleared of the reports of terrorists arrested from its premises or the compounds of its ardent followers / members. Jamaat has yet to answer why its Amir discouraged women to raise their voices against rape and to report rape if they didn’t have witnesses. The Jamaat has yet to answer why Dr. Usman, who attacked GHQ, lived in Mansoora. It has yet to answer what its workers like Arshad Waheed were doing in Wana when attacked by US drones. It has yet to answer why Al-Qaida leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was present in one of its leaders’ house. But to get answers to all these questions, someone from the state institutions will have to quit supporting Jamaat. Guess who?

Imran Khan is the best person to get these answers, as he has openly consented to have the ‘same ideology’ with the Jamaat.                                 

 Marvi Sirmed in the daily The Nation; Lahore, November 18, 2014

Op-ed:              Lynch mobs in India: lessons for Pakistan

India is a mess, but luckily, we left that mess behind when Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah gifted us a free Pakistan in 1947. The mess that should be our primary preoccupation is the one we have created here in the Islamic Republic since then.

Among the many reasons why this is unsustainable and must be resisted, none should be more compelling than the brazen immorality of people fearing for their lives based on what they believe. No society or state should tolerate such immorality – ever. But for Pakistan, whose very existence is rooted in the safety and protection of minorities, such immorality is a malignant tumour that must be resisted and removed at all costs.

Are Shias still mainstream? Or are Shias part of a minority? What kind of Shia? Oops. There are just so many. Zafarullah Khan. Sir Aga Khan. Quaid-e-Azam. Minorities in Pakistan? Sometimes, the head spins from the complexity of our identities’ identities.

If we can use the Dadri lynching in India to improve ourselves, as a society and a state, we would have done our Quaid and his legacy proud. Otherwise, we risk being no different from the callous society being built by Hindutvadi fervour across the border.

         Mosharraf Zaidi in The News of October 6, 2015

Op-ed:              How Muslims fuel ‘Islamophobia’

…We can shout “Islam is the religion of peace” till our lungs burst out, but advocating beliefs and laws that contradict basic human rights, let alone supporting Islamist militancy, would constantly be the deal-breaker….

Neither conveniently distancing ourselves from Islamist terrorism, nor mere condemnations of terrorism, would suffice. Muslims need to be at the forefront of the war against jihadism, which has caused more suffering to us than any other community.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in the daily The Nation of November 19, 2015

Op-ed:              The unmistakable hypocrisy

The so-called defenders of religion, I ask you. Before throwing the first stone, look within yourself. Who has made you the guardian of faith? Who has authorised you to persecute those who fold their hands to God differently? Who has allowed you to destroy lives, end lives? Who has given you the power to become the vigilante of faith, something deeply personal that is between an individual and the Creator? Who are you?

Mehr Tarar in the daily The Express Tribune of November 27, 2015

Editorial:          CII brawl

However, if it were only this single incident involving the CII, perhaps it could be overlooked. Unfortunately, many of the issues the body has chosen to put on its agenda over the past few years are deeply troubling. Apparently, one of the factors behind the brawl was the presence on the agenda of the issue of the status of Ahmadis in relation to Islam, and whether the current members of the community are to be termed murtad (apostates) or not. As it is, Ahmadis in Pakistan live in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation and for the CII to even discuss this is akin to playing with fire. Also on the recent meeting’s agenda were items related to defining which sects fall within the ambit of Islam, as well as the imposition of jizya (poll tax). In the past, the council has taken a stance endorsing child marriage. Clearly, the CII has a penchant for indulging in explosive debate rather than giving progressive solutions to the country’s many faith-related problems. These examples of retrogressive thinking justify calls for its disbandment. There is much the council can discuss, including burning issues such as sectarianism, terrorism and rising extremism — problems that have torn the country apart, yet that have not been discussed in a critical and constructive manner by the clergy. The CII has chosen to raise divisive issues and weigh in with regressive views at a time when moderation and a pluralistic ethos are required in society. Moreover, if its members cannot behave in a civilised manner, it is all the more reason to wrap up the CII.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2015

 

 

Op-ed:              Minorities and the Supreme Court

If we were to be honest to ourselves and to the origins of Pakistan itself, which emerged out of a minority’s legitimate concerns about their future in a United India, we would not only give the minorities their due but would also give them a veto over any matter that directly relates to their wellbeing or future.

The basic principle for demanding secured minorities’ representation in the national legislature is also in keeping with the spirit of the 14 points that are said to be the cornerstone of Pakistan’s ideology. Finally, it is one of the fundamental premises of the Lahore Resolution, which states that “adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in these regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.”

It bears repeating that the first PM of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, speaking on the Objectives Resolution in 1949, specifically assured that under the Constitution of Pakistan any non-Muslim would be able to hold the highest offices — head of state and head of government — in the land. Today, however, a non-Muslim Pakistani, who is said to be an equal citizen of Pakistan, cannot hold the office of the president or the PM. This is terrible discrimination and a historic wrong that needs to be rectified by the SC of Pakistan.

Pakistan is a Muslim majority country and nobody can change that. However, Pakistan does not belong to Muslims alone. Even by current estimates based on a flawed census, the number of non-Muslims in Pakistan is close to 10 million people. Some 10 million Pakistanis have been made to feel like aliens in their own homes. For the sake of those millions, I hope the SC seriously revisits the question of minorities in the light of the 18th Amendment.

                    Yasser Latif Hamdani in the Daily Times on June 22, 2015

Report:        Hard-line Indian Hindus become Modi’s enemies from within

…In recent months Maharaj (Hindu priest-turned-politician Sakshi Maharaj) has created uproar by describing Mahatma Gandhi’s Hindu nationalist assassin as a patriot, saying Hindu women should give birth to four children to ensure the religion survives and by calling for Hindus who convert to Islam or Christianity to be given the death penalty…

Maharaj ‘seeks death penalty for slaughtering cows, an animal revered by Hindus’.

The daily Dawn of February 4, 2015

 

2014

Opinion:           Future of Pakistan

If you (Pakistanis) demonize your own people, you are in deep trouble. I mean you can’t treat the Bengalis or the Baloch, or other ethnic or religious minorities the way you treat foreign enemies. That’s the route to catastrophe, as we have seen both in Pakistan and other countries that have given up on pluralism and tolerance and headed down the road to self destruction.

   Dr. Stephen P. Cohen in interview

Extract:            I am Malala

One day my father asked, “Malala, can you sing us some Pashto tapey?” I sang a verse we liked: “When you start your journey from the end of a snake’s tail. You end up on its head in an ocean of poison.”

To us that referred to how the authorities in Pakistan had initially used the militants and now were in a mess of their own making.

     I am Malala; Malala Yousafzai, p.249

Report:     WikiLeaks: Saudi-financed madrassas – more widespread in Pakistan than thought

Islamabad’s inaction on extremism is a recurring theme in many of the Wikleaked cables emanating from the US Embassy in Pakistan.

Michael Basch in Wikileaks documents dump for Focal Points – 56th in the series

Op-ed:              Salam, Abdus Salam

Nothing, of course, can compare to the deep trauma and heartbreak of that dark and fateful September 7, 1974, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government had parliament declare the Ahmadi sect – to which Abdus Salam belonged – officially non-Muslim. His diary entry for that day: “Declared non-Muslim. Cannot cope.”

For Bhutto this was just a political move and little did he recognize the depths of perversion and persecution this would lead to. Abdus Salam tendered his resignation, writing: “Islam does not give any segment of the Islamic community the right to pronounce on the faith of any other segment, faith being a matter between man and his Creator.”

According to Gordon Fraser, Bhutto tried to keep Salam engaged: “‘This is all politics,’ [Bhutto] tried to placate Salam, ‘Give me time, I will change it.’ Salam asked Bhutto to write down what he had just said on a note that would remain private. ‘I can’t do that,’ replied the master politician.”

Dr. Adil Najam who taught international relations and public policy at Boston.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-228553-Salam-Abdus-Salam

Op-ed:              Liberal Takfiris

…Then you have the Constitution of what is increasingly becoming the Deobandi Republic of Pakistan; the second amendment which declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims in 1974. The Ordinance XX a decade later upped the ante on that verdict by debarring Ahmadis from using Islamic titles or pretending to be Muslim.

To sum it up: our terrorists are takfiris; our religious scholars are takfiris; our leaders are takfiris and even our constitution is takfiri.

          Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in The Friday Times; Lahore, March 7-13, 2014

Op-ed:               Otherwise none will survive

Takfiri lashkars are on the rampage in the country and are committing massacre of their opponents. Mosques are not safe from their transgression, nor the Imam bargahs … Ahmadis’ places of worship and their graveyards are not spared nor the Jamaat khanas of Bohras and Ismailies … Hindus’ temples and Christian churches are not secure either… . Places of worship, holy sites, and centers of all faiths and denominations are targeted by these terrorists, while those in power and authority are content with their inaction and silence.

Syed Ali Mumtaz in the daily Mashriq of March 22, 2014

Editorial:          Sectarian bloodshed (in Karachi)

… It is fair to assume that deep down inside, the intelligence agencies know where the hubs of sectarian militancy in Karachi are located. Hence what is needed is an intelligence led operation that targets these hubs. … It must also be noted that it is usually the supporters and sympathizer of banned groups – the small fry – that are rounded up, while the killers and masterminds are rarely caught by the law-enforcers. … The city has seen enough lives snuffed out simply on the basis of the victims’ religious beliefs. It is time the state addressed this major security challenge before the situation implodes.

The daily Dawn; March 1, 2014  

Op-ed:              The King and O

A U.S. diplomatic cable leaked in (President) Obama’s first term revealed that as far back as April 2008, (King) Abdullah (of Saudi Arabia) implored American officials to launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear program.

                                                                           The weekly TIME, April 7, 2014

Op-ed:              No More Broken Promises

Saudi Arabia has told the U.N. it will do better on human rights. Just as it did five years ago.

                                                                           The weekly TIME, April 7, 2014

Op-ed:              Different forms of torment

Muhammad Izharul Haq wrote in his column commenting on the situation in Pakistan (translation):

It is a strange country in which citizens tolerate everything – very cooly. The whip of God’s punishment rises in the air, shines and rustles and strikes the people. It pierces their skin, cuts their flesh, bares their bones and makes their blood gush forth. Dishonest rulers, greedy mullas, Fatwa Farosh ulama (who issue edicts for money), heartless bureaucrats and millionaire anchor-persons (in media) impose themselves on society and bawl the people to the intended destiny.

What diverse forms of torment!

The daily Dunya; Faisalabad, September 13, 2013

Op-ed:              The Islamic Republic of Saudistan?

The personal agents of Pakistan’s ruling elite, past and present, have led to the creeping, culturally alien Saudisation of Pakistan.

Newsline April 2014

Interview:         The country is on a suicide mission

“Watch the circus going on nowadays… A country that cannot fight polio and deal with a law that is so obviously being misused to settle scores can only be pitied.”

“When Pakistan’s history will be objectively written it will be the most documented case of a country where treachery ruled and won. It’s no longer a few misled individuals, but the country itself that is on a suicide mission. Only God can save us from ourselves.”

Stated by Ms. Asma Jahangir, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, in the daily Dawn; Lahore, May 18, 2014; p.7 of Images.

Op-ed:              Pakistan: No country of minorities

…Dr Mehdi (US citizen) became a target of hatred like other Ahmadis, virtually authorized by the Pakistani state. If you are an Ahmadi residing in Pakistan, you are liable to be murdered anytime, anywhere. A few days ago a sixty-year old Ahmadi was killed in a Lahore prison for alleged blasphemy. These are only samples. In the past extremists have mercilessly undertaken massacre of this community. Eighty-five Ahmadis were killed in Lahore (in one day) in year 2010. So if you are a Pakistani Ahmadi, you should consider leaving Pakistan, before it is too late….                                                              

  Gulmina Bilal in the daily Mashriq; June 7, 2014

Op-ed:              A night of terror (at Karachi Airport on June 10)

…You are an infidel army, shouted one of the militants in Pashto.

    The Friday Times; June 13, 2014

Editorial:          State Response to Terrorism

…Therefore it is not enough to launch ‘targeted’ military operations against terrorists in the tribal areas. A new and comprehensive socio-political narrative is needed to educate the civil military bureaucracy, media and judiciary about the primacy of the internal enemy and the need to build peace with, and diffuse, the external threat. This narrative has to be woven around notions of civil military balance, democracy, regional amity, global integration and universal human rights, and embedded in revised curricula and textbooks. The sooner the first steps are taken to signal a dynamic reassessment of the new realities, the better.

Editorial in The Friday Times; June13, 2014

Op-ed:              Bloody swath

From Pakistan on the Arabia Sea to landlocked Afghanistan to Iraq at the heart of the Middle East, to Syria and Gaza on the Mediterranean, the Muslim World is ablaze.

de Borchgrave at  upi.com/Top-News/Analysis/de-Borchgrave/2014/0703/Bloodyswath

 

Editorial:                  Asylum seekers in Sri Lanka

… The Sri Lankan authorities should grant UNHCR greater access to the asylum seekers so that their cases can be processed in a way that is acceptable to all sides. In the meantime, there is much to be remedied in Pakistan where a narrative of extremism and hate holds out no hope for those at the receiving end.

                                The daily Dawn editorial, August 6, 2014

Op-ed:                  Religious double speak

… In such a situation, it is the government’s responsibility to restrain these individuals who are threatening a law-abiding and non-violent community (Ahmadis) with looting, destruction and death. In this the present Punjab government has a lot to explain, especially the fact that under its watch, since 2008, all minorities, especially the Ahmadis who have been forced to don the minority mantle, have been subjected to the most barbaric incidents of violence unprecedented even for a country that is no stranger to violence.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/04-Aug-2014/religious-doublespeak

Op-ed:                  Pakistan’s Wretched of the Earth

Pakistan’s Ahmadis have come perilously close to bearing resemblance with the situation faced by the Jews of Nazi …

The recent act of violence against Ahmadis in Gujranwala is part of a series of such events, which have been taking place in Pakistan for many decades now. While all religious minorities in Pakistan have been under attack, Ahmadis are the worst affected. I will argue that this is because the very entity of followers of this community has been criminalised in Pakistan.

After the second amendment had been passed, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressed the National Assembly and described the unanimous decision of the assembly to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims as the “final solution” of the “90-year-old [Ahmadi] problem”. Whether this was a Freudian slip or not, but the elder Bhutto’s inappropriate choice of words for Pakistan’s Ahmadis have come perilously close to bearing resemblance with the situation faced by the Jews of Nazi Germany.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17, 2014 – by Ali Usman Qasimi

Editorial:           Asylum seekers’ plight

Given the asylum-seekers’ religious affiliations, the veracity of their claims can scarcely be overstated. Sri Lanka would have done well to take a humane view of their quest for refuge; its indifference to their plight goes against the spirit of legal and moral obligations towards vulnerable groups. In any case, now that avenues of escape for them appear to be closed, it is incumbent upon Pakistan to ensure their misery is not further compounded when they return by them being dragged into legal tangles based upon the deportation reports issued by Sri Lanka. Already the Pakistan Foreign Office has done them a disservice by saying they have badmouthed Pakistan in Sri Lanka, a statement that dispenses with logic (for why would they seek asylum had they not been driven away by intolerable injustice here?) and compassion, for it has tarred them as ‘unpatriotic’ a dangerous label in a milieu where minorities are anyway seen as second class citizens.

    Editorial in the daily Dawn, September 4, 2014

Op-ed:              Land of the walking dead

David Brooks is a noted columnist of The New York Times. In August last year, he wrote a column with the title ‘One great big war’. This is how he began. ‘What is the biggest threat to world peace right now? Despite the horror, it’s not chemical weapons in Syria. It’s not even, for the moment, an Iranian nuclear weapon. Instead it’s the possibility of a wave of sectarian strife building across the Middle East.’

We may well ask what are the biggest threats to Pakistan’s survival? There may be others but violent sectarianism or, in other words, religious intolerance is certainly one of them. But does anyone care?

  Ghazi Salahuddin in The News; September 14, 2014

Op-ed:              ISIS emerges in Pakistan?

The presence of dozens of militant outfits actively working in Pakistan could prove to be like a hatchery for the ISIS. But what is more disturbing is the distribution of the pamphlet which asks for support for the transnational militant outfit in Afghan refugee camps. There are at least three renowned militant commanders in Afghanistan that have offered their allegiances to Abu-Bakar al–Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State. What sectarian tensions ripe within the country, it’s impossible to think about the implication if such a movement gains momentum? The government should not take the distribution of such material lightly, with Nato wrapping up its decade long project across the border and the rise of the Taliban in across the border, Pakistan is marred with serious security concerns that need to be dealt with immediately. We have a pre-requisite in the form of the TTP which spread from the tribal areas to the entire country – can we combat a new enemy?

Editorial in The Express Tribune; September 4, 2014

Op-ed:              Out of the East came a man

…..What emerges from all these personal narrations is an image of a man of penetrating intensity, always working, constantly thinking, deeply concerned for the poor, confident and ebullient, yet good-natured and possessed of a deep humility….

Not for nothing did the Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of the neutrino Frederick Reines compose a poem in tribute to Salam, the first stanza of which runs:

“From out of the East there came a man

Who thought to divine the cosmic plan

To unity the hearts of man

And make whole, concepts deep and grand.”

  Kabir Babar in The Friday Times; October 10-16, 2014

Op-ed       :               Mainstreaming minorities

Every now and then something happens that highlights the precarious situation in which non-Muslim religious minorities are living their life in Pakistan. However, the gloss on the issues of religious minorities proves to be fleeting in nature. The pattern that has emerged from a number of recent incidents is that the government’s interest stays alive in such cases as long as they remain on the radar screen of the media. With the media spotlight having shifted to other issues, things come back to square one with religious minorities living their lives in the grip of fear, intimidation and exploitation….

…“The events of 2010-11 have not occurred in a vacuum and are not atypical of Pakistan reality. These most recent attacks on religious minorities and the state’s tolerance towards this persecution are part of a long-term pattern of state complicity at all levels – judicial, executive and legislative,” the report says.

Amanat Ali Ch. in the daily The Nation; Lahore, October 15, 2014

Op-ed:              Save minorities, save Pakistan

The general public in Pakistan may have sympathy for minorities but when it comes to the Ahmadi community, our human sympathy tends to fizzle out. It does not matter what level of education or profession one may belong to, the rights of Ahmadis is an issue that even military dictators and so-called revolutionary leaders who talk about “change” and “insaaf” (justice) fall short of discussing. Recently in parliament the question of Ahmadis popped up in relation to the religion section in the passport. The newer and younger parliamentarians, it is reported, tried to argue on the purpose of this section in the passport but were told by the senior lot to remain silent on the subject because ‘nothing’ could be done.

Delivering on minority rights is not rocket science. What is needed is a strong leader who has clarity on the significance of this issue for the survival of Pakistan. A third world middle-income country that can develop a nuclear bomb, I am certain, has the capacity to protect its own citizens.

                 Hussain Nadim in daily times.com.pk/21-Nov-2014/

Op-ed:              Christians suffer in Punjab

… The failure of the Punjab government to prosecute any of the 70 accused held responsible for the gory incident had compelled the surviving head of the family to leave Pakistan after the Punjab police failed to arrest the culprits who had been hurling death threats to him for pursuing the murder case of eight family members. Five of those who had been burnt alive by the attackers were women and children who could not run to save their lives when their house was attacked by the SSP men. A total of 72 people were nominated in the Gojra attacks’ FIR who were set free one by one because the complainant in the murder case, Almas Hameed Masih, a resident of the Christian Colony decided against pursuing the case and left Pakistan to save his life.

… Ten months after the Gojra tragedy, two fidayeen squads of the Punjabi Taliban targeted two Ahmedi worship places in the Model Town and Garhi Shahu areas of Lahore and killed over 100 people who were offering Friday prayers. Claiming responsibility for the May 28, 2010 twin terrorist attacks, Mansoor Maawia, a spokesperson for the Punjabi Taliban had said, “No Ahmedi would live in peace in Pakistan. Our war against them will continue till their total elimination as they are as worst infidels as Jews are.” It later transpired during investigations that the master planner of the twin attacks was in fact a doctor of the Jinnah Hospital, Dr Ali Abdullah who was also the president of Jamaatul Daawa Medical Wing. He told his interrogators that while pursuing his medical degree at Allama Iqbal Medical College, he had received arms training in Azad Kashmir at a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba training camp being run by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaatul Daawa (JuD). His arrest showed for the first time that the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was a part of the Punjabi Taliban who had let loose a reign of terror across Pakistan, especially targeting the minority communities. However, none of the accused in the twin attacks targeting the Ahmedi worship places has so far been taken to task.

The News International, Sunday, November 9, 2014

Press Report:            Security of Mr. Nasir (Civil society protest leader

against Lal Masjid cleric)

…There is fear among certain circles that accusations against Mr. Nasir could be life threatening, as saying that someone is an Ahmadi in Pakistan is tantamount to inciting violence against that person. The recent killing of Luqman Ahmad Shehzad, an Ahmadi man who was shot in the head near the Bhiri Shah Rehman village in Gujranwala, has also heightened concern for Mr. Nasir’s safety.

“We are considering holding a press conference to clarify that he (Mr. Nasir) is not Ahmadi because in the prevailing situation calling someone Ahmadi can instigate murder,” he (Civil society activist Sham Tasir) said.

The daily Dawn; December 29, 2014

Op-ed:                 We seem to enjoy our old ways and rows

… (Translation)  You insist on a counter narrative, but first, are you prepared to make your school syllabus less extreme? And also, after all, what do you intend to build? Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan as envisaged on August 11, 1947 or the post-Jinnah Pakistan of Objectives Resolution? Choose this or that; then if you tailor all your educational, ideological and action policies accordingly, you’ll perhaps get cured. Todays’ Pakistan, that is weak, confused, frightened, is baby of the enforced marriage between the statement of 11th August and the Objectives Resolution. If this marriage lingers on, the blighted baby will perish. So, either give the child entirely in the custody of the speech of August 11, or put it in the lap of Objectives Resolution. Otherwise you’ll remain off track and misguide others too. All told, we know for sure, that powers above never gave a people fourth opportunity to recover, not even to its favourite nation – Bani Israel.

         Wusatullah Khan in the Mashriq of December 27, 2014

Op-ed:                             Our Islamists and their lies

…It was a JI-inspired doctor, Ali Abdullah of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, who led the militant attack on the Ahmadis wounded at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital in 2010 (after the twin attack on mosques). The JI (Jamaat Islami) stands for a takeover of the state by hook or by crook and there is no place for non-Muslims or even Muslims who disagree with its ideology.

                Y.L. Hamdani in http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/15-Dec-2014

Book Review:                   The Jihadis Return

“A striking development in Islamic world in recent decades is the way in which Wahabism is taking over mainstream Sunni Islam. In one country after another Saudi Arabia is putting up the money for the training of preachers and the building of mosques. A result of this is the spread of sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia.

… The resurgence of Al Qaeda-type groups is not a threat confined to Syria, Iraq, and their near neighbours. What is happening in these countries, combined with the increasing dominance of intolerant and exclusive Wahabite beliefs within the worldwide Sunni community, means that all 1.6 billion Muslims, almost a quarter of the world’s people, will be increasingly affected. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that non-Muslims populations, including many in the West, will be untouched by the conflict.”

 – Excerpt from The Jihadis Return: Isis and the New Sunni Uprising in the daily Dawn of December 28, 2014

Op-ed:                                     Let us count no more

…The scourge of extremism and terrorism cannot be defeated if Pakistan’s military establishment pursues policies of duplicity; with a selective fight instead of an all-out war against all terrorists without distinction and second thought, since the alternative is clearly at the expense of Pakistan’s peace, stability and future. As vital it is to battle the Taliban physically, it is even more crucial to battle them ideologically, culturally and socially…

Hafsa Khawaja in the daily The Nation; Lahore, December 29, 2014

Op-ed:                  The ghosts and gains of North Waziristan

…“Almost every household here was infected by the economy of terror,” says Brigadier Azhar Abbasi. “Regular folk here maintained a basement with a torture chamber or a private jail in their house, because they would hold hostages for kidnapper networks in the mainland…A hostage from Karachi or Lahore [Pakistan’s main cities] would end up in the basement of a shopkeeper here, tucked away from the grip of the law, waiting for his ransom…almost every family depended on abduction, crime, narcotics, gun-running, smuggling or terror economy, directly or indirectly.”

…“Don’t be overwhelmed by the religious symbolism,” warns Brigadier Azhar Abbasi. “Beards were a fashion here, too. We’ve found booze, we’ve found hash, we’ve found all sorts of lewd movies on CDs. These guys did not have a one-track mind about jihad.”

Wajahat S Khan in the daily The News; November 18, 2014

 

Op-eds

2013

Pakistan is not entirely devoid of decent people. There are intellectuals of integrity who have the courage to speak the truth and state reality as they see it.  The country’s vernacular press however spares no space for them, but the English press is more accommodating of such views and would occasionally print what they write.  Such op-eds and independent opinions are reproduced in this chapter.

 

Ahmadi exclusion

As has been the case since 1985, the country’s 200,000 Ahmadis will not be casting their ballots on May 11. They remain a community without representation and voice, marginalised within a society where they have been subjected to ceaseless discrimination, denied jobs and education, ostracised, beaten and sometimes subjected to brutal terrorist attacks. The Ahmadis, many of whom have fled the country in droves, were officially declared “non-Muslim” in the 1970s, the state determining their faith.

Since then, the state has adopted increasingly vicious policies. In 1985, under the late General Ziaul Haq, a new form was introduced in which voters who declared themselves Muslim had to denounce the Ahmadi faith. As the Ahmadis refused to do so, they were placed on separate rolls as “non-Muslims” under the separate electorate system. While the joint electorate was revived in 2002, as a result of extremist protests, a separate roll was created for Ahmadis. This policy has since been retained, with the Election Commission of Pakistan using NADRA data to create a separate list for Ahmadis. A community spokesman has made it clear they will not vote as non-Muslims. The group thus remains disenfranchised, while, as the spokesman has said, the appearance of their addresses on the NADRA list opens up new dangers for them.

The situation cannot be allowed to continue. The Ahmadis need to be mainstreamed; no organ or individual has the right to determine the faith of a citizen. Legislative measures are required to undo legal discrimination, backed by a programme to eradicate hate directed against them. The task will not be an easy one, but justice needs to be done without further delay, so the long suffering of a badly wronged community can be ended and their most basic rights — including that to vote — restored to them without further delay, so that all citizens can truly be equals in our society.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2013.

 

The status quo remains

Once more, Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community sit back and watch while others vote

By Bilal Farooqi

For more than three decades, they have not dropped a vote down the slit of a ballot box — at least not until renouncing their faith. Ironically, even the man who had so diligently fought the case for their rights 20 years ago was unable to set the wrongs right for the General Elections 2013.  But given the past disappointments, expecting anything else would have been overoptimistic.

It was the present Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, who was the counsel for the five appellants belonging to the Ahmadiyya community in the 1993 Zaheeruddin case. The five Ahmadis — Zaheeruddin, Abdur Rehman, Majid, Rafi Ahmad and Muhammad Hayat — had appealed before the apex court against the sentences handed down to them for wearing badges bearing the kalima and claiming to be Muslims.

They were convicted under the controversial Ordinance XX promulgated by the military ruler General Ziaul Haq in 1984, targeting the Ahmadiyya community.

Ebrahim had presented a strong argument before the court. He had submitted that Ordinance XX was “oppressively unjust, abominably vague, perverse, discriminatory, produce of biased mind, so mala fide and wholly unconstitutional being violative of Articles 19, 20 and 25 of the Constitution”. According to him, imposing restrictions on the Ahmadis’ “religious practices, utterances and beliefs” violated the right to speech, profess and practice one’s faith and amounted to serious discrimination.

However, the court had upheld the sentences and declared the ordinance in accordance with the Constitution.  Two decades later, not even Ebrahim as the Chief Election Commissioner could turn things around.

A delegation of Ahmadis met with Ebrahim and other officials, but the system that makes the community members choose between their faith and the right to vote still remains in place. Disappointed, they boycotted the upcoming polls. “We wrote letters [for changing the system] to the authorities in 2007 too but to no avail,” said Saleemuddin, the spokesperson for the community, adding, “It is no different this time round. Our appeals have been ignored for years.”

Separate electoral list

Not only has the Election Commission continued to discriminate against Ahmadis, but also exposed them to more perils. It ordered that a separate electoral list be prepared only for Ahmadis. The nominal rolls it published contain the community members’ latest addresses, turning them into sitting ducks for the modern-day witch-hunters.

The brief reintroduction of the joint electorate system in the country in 2002 had led many to believe that there was hope after all. It had brought an end to the system imposed by General Ziaul Haq in 1985 under which separate electoral lists were prepared for different religious groups.

But that never happened. A few days after the joint electorate system was reintroduced, the then President General Pervez Musharraf caved in to the demands of hardline clerics and promulgated the Chief Executive Order 15 of 2002, inserting Articles 7B and 7C in the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002. The first article enforced that the status of Ahmadis was to remain unchanged despite the Conduct of General Elections Order 2002. The second required the voters to sign a declaration that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last of the prophets. Those who refused to sign it were to be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslims.

So the joint electorate system never made a comeback in the true sense.

No option

The Ahmadis cannot sign the declaration because of their religious beliefs. The other option for them — the one they are unwilling to take — is to list themselves as non-Muslims. For the 2002 elections, the Election Commission had introduced two separate forms for the registration of voters — Form 2 for Muslims and Form 8 for Non-Muslims. Ahmadis could only apply through Form 8. Now, there is no Form 8 and Form 2 has been redesigned for the registration of all voters.

But there is a catch. The applicants have to tick one of the boxes in the new form to indicate their religion. Those who tick themselves as Muslims have to sign a declaration on the form that they are not Ahmadis and do not share the religious beliefs of that community.

In a nutshell, the Ahmadiyya community has been strategically kept deprived of their right to vote. “The Form 8 has been kept unchanged for the upcoming elections,” said Saleemuddin. “Everything remains the same.”

Another dead end

A couple of month ago, the Supreme Court had started hearing of petition submitted in 2007 against the two articles inserted by Pervez Musharraf in the election law. Later, the court made it clear that the decision would be made in the light of the constitutional provisions and principles laid down in the Zaheeruddin case verdict —  apparently another dead end for the Ahmadiyya community.

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Apr2013-weekly/nos-28-04-2013/dia.htm#5

 

COMMENT: The anatomy of a press release — Yasser Latif Hamdani

Jinnah was repeatedly pressured on the Ahmadi issue; he repeatedly shot it down publicly and said that those trying to raise the anti-Ahmadi issue were actually trying to divide the Muslims 

I am a registered voter from NA-122 Lahore. Till recently I was sure who I was going to vote for: the great Imran Khan who is standing from my constituency. Khan has been a hero to me as long as I can remember. We grew up admiring him as a cricketer, as an Oxford educated playboy (this is when Article 62 and 63 were not taken seriously), and as a philanthropist who gave us Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. I was 16 years old when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) was launched and I remember trying to convince my parents that they should vote for Khan then. In 1998 when I went to the US for college, I met a famous religious leader from a religious party who called Khan a Jewish agent and I almost came to blows with him.

There is also a personal emotional connection that makes me want to vote for Khan. My late father who had voted for Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) all his life decided to cast his vote for PTI in 2002 unexpectedly. By this time I had decided to vote PPP largely because I did not think Khan’s candidate had a chance of winning from our constituency. I asked my father why he was wasting his vote, and he said that Khan was the only man with any character or integrity left. He predicted that sooner or later everyone would get around to voting for Khan. He died suddenly before this could happen in 2007, and 2013 seems to make his prediction come true.

So I was all set to vote for Khan from NA-122 till of course I read the press release by the PTI on the Ahmadi issue and it has given me pause. Let me state that I never expected the PTI or Khan to repeal the second amendment or even undo the horribly unjust Ordinance XX of 1984. It is not politically feasible and, therefore, all the defences cited by Khan’s tigers of the press release are justified. However, the press release itself was so poorly drafted and so horribly worded that one wonders if Khan is actually arguing for more state-sponsored persecution of Ahmadis. Then there is the larger problem. Khan has, in many private gatherings, said that anyone who professes to be a Muslim is a Muslim. This is a principled position, a position that Jinnah subscribed to as well but unlike Jinnah who openly said Ahmadis were Muslims and no one had the right to say otherwise, Khan only says it privately. Be that as it may, it makes the press release a lie.

The story as I gathered from various sources goes something like this. One lady Nadia Ramzan Chaudhry, an information secretary in London, visited the Ahmadi Jamaat headquarters (quaintly named Islamabad) as part of a peace symposium, and in her personal capacity asked an innocent question about why Ahmadis, if they believe in justice, would not vote for the PTI. A video clip of this was then used by the mullahs to suggest that Khan was trying to mobilise the Ahmadi vote by promising them repeal of the 2nd Amendment. Of course, this is a minefield no politician would dare go near at election time and there was nothing to suggest that it was an official PTI overture.

PTI’s reaction was abysmal. First Shireen Mazari came out with a statement denying that Nadia Chaudhry was even an office bearer. Then came the press release. It would have been alright if Khan had merely said that he never canvassed the Ahmadis as a community for their vote. It would be equally alright if Khan had merely affirmed that he believed in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) prophethood. After all, no one has questioned Khan’s personal belief and no one thinks he subscribes to the Ahmadi beliefs. The statement, however, did not stop there. First it declared that not only is this Khan’s belief but he also believes that anyone who does not believe like he does is a kafir (infidel) and any claimant of prophethood since is a liar. This part, of course, goes against what Khan has said on several occasions at other places and there is enough evidence to the contrary on YouTube. Secondly, if Khan’s belief is that Ahmadis are non-Muslim, then the Ahmadi religion constitutes a separate category. Whither tolerance for other faiths? As if that was not enough, he also affirmed his faith in the constitutional status of ‘Qadiyanis’. Now granted that Qadiyani is not necessarily an offensive term like say Mirzai. However, Ahmadis call themselves Ahmadis and they are described as such in Article 260 of the Constitution. Secondly, one wonders if by merely speaking of Qadiyanis, is Khan saying that he does not agree with the constitutional status of the Lahori Ahmadis? Perhaps whoever drafted the statement should have read Article 260 of the Constitution clearly. In any event it goes without saying that Ahmadis object to the word Qadiyani in much the same way as Muslims in general object to the once in vogue word Mohammadan. Khan could at least have followed the Constitution in letter and spirit.

What could Khan have done? He could have taken a principled stand like Jinnah. Jinnah was repeatedly pressured on the Ahmadi issue and he repeatedly shot it down publicly and said that those trying to raise the anti-Ahmadi issue were actually trying to divide the Muslims. Granted that would have been too much for a lesser man of not the same sterling quality. If not that then Khan could have remained silent and ignored the hoopla. He didn’t. It takes me back to the 2008 US presidential election campaign when certain Hijab-clad women in Barack Obama’s audience were removed because there were accusations by the right wing that he was secretly a Muslim. Obama had the moral courage to call them up and also publicly apologise to those Muslim women, despite everything.

Imran Khan has proved that he is no Jinnah. He is not even an Obama. So I ask you who should I vote for from NA-122? Perhaps I should not vote at all.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and through his email address yasser.hamdani@gmail.com

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C06%5Cstory_6-5-2013_pg3_3

 

Op-ed:         Lahore episode further blemishes Punjab govt’s record

LAHORE: The anti-Christian violence in Lahore where 100-plus houses and shops were ransacked, looted and finally set ablaze by a group of fanatics has further blemished the already depressing record of the PML-N government which has mostly failed to protect members of the minority communities from the wrath of the extremists and terrorists.

According to careful estimates, during the five-year tenure of Shahbaz Sharif as chief minister of Punjab, over 200 Ahmadis, Christians and Shias were killed in the province in hate-drive attacks, with some of the horrific attacks targeting the minority communities taking place in Lahore. In an almost similar incident, hundreds of hooligans belonging to the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) attacked a Christians’ locality in Gojra city on July 31, 2009 and burnt alive eight members of a family besides setting ablaze over 100 houses. The failure of the Punjab government to prosecute any of the 70 accused held responsible for the gory incident had compelled the family head to leave Pakistan after the Punjab police failed to arrest the culprits who were hurling death threats to him for pursuing the case.

The anti-Christian attacks were triggered by reports of desecration of the Holy Quran by some Christians, which eventually proved false. Five of those burnt alive were women and children who could not run to save their lives.

A total of 72 people were nominated in the Gojra attacks’ FIR who were set free one by one because the complainant in the murder case, Almas Hameed Masih, a resident of the Christian Colony, decided against pursuing the case and left Pakistan to save his life. Almas had actually nominated the president of the Toba Tek Singh chapter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the FIR as one of the accused who was held responsible for the July 31, 2010 incident along with the local leadership of the SSP which had been renamed as the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Those nominated in the case registered under section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act included Abdul Qadir Awan of the PML-N and Maulana Abdul Khaliq, Qari Abidur Rehman Shah and Hafiz Muhammad Imran of the ASWJ.

Ten months after the Gojra tragedy, two fidayeen squads of the Punjabi Taliban targeted two Ahmadi mosques in the Model Town and Garhi Shahu areas of Lahore and killed over 100 people who were offering Friday prayers. Claiming responsibility for the May 28, 2010 twin terrorist attacks, Mansoor Maawia, a spokesperson for the Punjabi Taliban, had said, “No Ahmadi would live in peace in Pakistan. Our war against them will continue till their complete elimination because they are as bad infidels as Jews are.” It later transpired during investigations that the master planner of the twin attacks was in fact a doctor of the Jinnah Hospital, Dr Ali Abdullah, who was also the president of the Jamaatud Daawa Medical Wing. He told his interrogators that while pursuing his medical degree at Allama Iqbal Medical College, he had received armed training in Azad Kashmir at a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) training camp being run by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaatud Daawa (JD). His arrest showed for the first time that the LT was a part of the Punjabi Taliban who have let loose a reign of terror across Pakistan, especially targeting the minority communities. However, none of the accused in the twin attacks has so far been taken to task.

Seven months later (on January 4, 2011), Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was shot dead in the federal capital by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard from the Elite Force of the Punjab Police. The killer later explained that he had assassinated Taseer because of his criticism of the blasphemy law and his efforts to secure a presidential pardon for Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian woman already condemned to death by a Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court for having committed blasphemy. Qadri had admitted in his confessional statement that he was actually provoked for the murder by the fiery speeches of two Rawalpindi-based clerics Mufti Hanif Qureshi and Qari Imtiaz Hussain Shah. Mufti Hanif is the ameer of a Rawalpindi-based religious outfit, Shabab-e-Islami Pakistan while Imtiaz Shah is the imam of a Rawalpindi-based mosque called Amna Masjid.

Two months later (on March 2, 2011), Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and an outspoken critic of the blasphemy law, was shot dead in Islamabad. The responsibility for the assassination was placed on the Punjabi Taliban because of a pamphlet found at the place where he was killed. Written in Urdu, the leaflet claimed that Bhatti had been killed because of his opposition to the blasphemy law. His killers have yet to be arrested.

The next in line to be killed by the Punjabi Taliban was Bargeeta Almby, a 72-year old female Christian charity worker from Sweden, who was shot in the Model Town area of Lahore on December 3, 2012 for allegedly backing two Christian priests who had been accused of committing blasphemy, the preliminary police investigations have indicated. Bargeeta Almby, the managing director of the Full Gospel Assemblies (FGA), a church fellowship founded in the United States with congregations worldwide, was returning home from her Kot Lakhpat office when two unidentified motorcyclists shot her in the Model Town area of Lahore where she had been living since long. The day Bargeeta was targeted in Model Town, another significant incident took place in the Q Block area of Model Town where over a dozen masked men carrying arms and digging tools, vandalised the tombstones of 100-plus graves at an Ahmadi cemetery. Three months before this incident, Warren Weinstein, a 71-year old Jewish American US Aid official, was abducted from his Model Town home in Lahore (on August 13, 2011) by armed men belonging to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) who eventually sold him to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The ugly episode in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore took place at a time when the PML-N government in Punjab was already under fire from its political opponents for trying to strike a seat adjustment deal with the ASWJ in south Punjab for the upcoming general elections. However, a Punjab government spokesman refuted the impression that it has failed to protect members of the minority communities because of a soft corner for the banned militant or sectarian outfits.

Amir Mir in the The News International, Monday, March 11, 2013

 

Op-ed:              The 1974 ouster of the ‘heretics’. What really happened?

(W)ith the ever-increasing problem of religious bigotry and violence that Pakistan has been facing ever since the 1980s, many intellectuals, authors and political historians in the country have blamed the Bhutto government’s 1974 act of constitutionally redefining the status of the Ahmadiyya, formerly recognized as a Muslim sect, as the starting point of what began to mutate into a sectarian and religious monstrosity in the next three decades.

The Ahmadiyya Community was (almost overnight) turned into a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan.

Nadeem Piracha in http://dawn.com/news/1057427/the-1974-ouster

Op-ed:              We want our former Pakistan

Mr. Bhutto further encouraged this agitation (against Ahmadis). Dr. Mubashir (his finance minister) says that he did so on instigation from another country. Well, on whosoever’s instigation, it created a big gulf between two sections of Pakistani citizens – an intense mutual hatred.

Masood Azhar in the daily Jang, Lahore of October 8, 2013

Op-ed:              License to kill

As a nation, we are bothered about any real or imagined atrocities against the Muslims, for example in Palestine, Myanmar, Syria or India. We are also ready to burn property worth billions of rupees on a blasphemous film and profane cartoons. But we are not pushed when a community is targeted in our own country and subjected to inhuman treatment.

Speaking at a literary seminar, Wusatullah Khan, a senior journalist and commentator, sarcastically said,

“The way Pakistan has been treating the Ahmadi community is reminiscent of The Third Reich’s treatment of the Jews in the 1930s and ’40s.”

Khan added, “The same thing is happening here day in and day out and it happens to be the only point of reference on which all the sects, namely Sunnis, Shias, Deobandis, Wahabis, Barelvis, Salafis/Takfiris, etc, are united.”

http://www.dawn.com/news/1076534/license-to-kill

Statement:               SAUDI ARABIA: Ahmadis persecuted in the Kingdom

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to forward this statement regarding persons who chose to join the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam and the treatment they received thereafter.

It is extremely perturbing that we have to bring to the notice of the world’s community the plight of two innocent, loyal citizens of Saudi Arabia who had committed no offence at all, were arrested on 14 May 2012 just because they had chosen to join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for the betterment of their understanding and practice of the teachings of Islam.

It is a heart rending story and nearly a year and a half on they are being shuttled from one prison to another. Their families are not allowed access to them and since May 2013, no one is even aware of their whereabouts or the state of their condition. This is appalling and shocking for the world community…

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-247-2013

Statement:                    Asian Human Rights Commission

Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan continue to be persecuted, prosecuted, humiliated, harassed, tortured and subjected to target killings. In the very recent past hundreds of Ahmadis have been murdered for their faith and belief and this horrifying brutality continues under the very eyes of the Government who take no notice or action and blatantly allow the culprits to go scot-free. …

AHRC-STM-169-2013 in http://www.humanrighs/Pakistan

Op-ed:              Ahmadis and the elections

…When Pakistan was born, its founding father, the Quad-i-Azam, had a vision – he told the people that faith was a personal matter and that the state had no business interfering with anyone’s beliefs. Fast forward to the Pakistan of today and we see that, far from being free believers of whichever faith they choose, nominates particularly the Ahmadis – are not even treated as citizens of the state. They have no rights, no safeguards, and can be jailed for some of the pettiest ‘offences’ inventive and mischievous minds can think of.

Editorial, The Daily Times, Lahore; March 13, 2013

Op-ed:              Pride of the Muslim Ummah

Ahmadis as far as I have understood their position, have long left the matter to God. What they want now is simply to live in peace as Pakistani citizens entitled to equal rights as Pakistanis, which includes the right to practice their faith, whether or not you and I consider them non-Muslims. This is a constitutional right under the Article 20. Those who rely on Zaheeruddin vs the State to suggest that the Article 20 of the constitution is not violated by the persecution of Ahmadis and wanton destruction of their property should remember that through the 18th Amendment, the word ‘freely’ was restored to the Objectives Resolution, which was not the case in 1993. Therefore, logically, a free, fair and impartial judiciary, unmoved by religious passion or pressure should be able to strike down the notorious and illogical Ordinance XX of 1984, which is violation of every known principle of natural justice and all principles of Islam vis-à-vis religious freedom.

Let us not persecute this community any further. Restore to them, as Pakistanis, their civil and political rights even if you disagree with their religious beliefs, so that they may live honourably and without fear as citizens of country. In the long run, we need them more than they need us.

Y.L. Hamdani in The Daily Times of April 01, 2013

Op-ed:              Alienated

“I will chase every Ahmadi in any part of the world and will not spare them,” said moon-sighting committee chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman (Ummat, March 18, 2013) “Ahmadis don’t have the right to live in Pakistan. They don’t have the right to be on any post in Pakistan. All of them who are on important posts in Pakistan, should be sacked immediately.”

By Mohammad Shehzad in the weekly The Friday Times, Lahore; May 10-16, 2013

(Note: This mulla is on the public pay-roll. Ed.)

Op-ed:              Who is a Muslim?

…And yet there always will be a pressure to define a Muslim. Perhaps the state and society should get it into their heads that it is futile to define a Muslim except in the following way: A Muslim is anyone who calls himself a Muslim. Leave the rest to God, after all He alone is the best judge.

http://pakteahoue.net/2013/09/07/who.is.amuslim/

Op-ed:              Minority rights: Freedom or fear

In Lahore, recently at least 14 conferences were held where speakers spoke out against Ahmadis, instigating the audience to boycott, banish or even kill them, or to make their lives hard at the very least. Loud speakers blared and fiery speeches were delivered. No state machinery took any action against the organizers even though the administration could do so under Section 153-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. Large police contingents were deputed there but they took no action against the hate campaign.

Rana Tanveer in the Express Tribune of November 18, 2013

Op-ed:                   Why Sir Syed loses and Allama Iqbal wins in Pakistan

Sir Syed’s rational approach ultimately lost out and the Allama’s call on emotive reasoning won.

Iqbal said what people wanted to hear – and his genius lay in crafting it with beautifully chosen words. Unfortunately his prescriptions for restructuring society cannot help us in digging ourselves out of a hole.

Pervez Hoodbhoy in The Express Tribune; February 9, 2013

Op-ed:         Pakistan: The Council of Islamic Ideology intends to complete the elimination of the religious minorities

(Also a remark on Justice®, Nazir Akhtar of LHC)

This kind of mindset continues to grow because the police have never charged any perpetrators (of murders of the blasphemy accused). The government’s inaction and zealous judges like the judge of the Lahore High Court, Justice Nazir Akhtar, are also contributing factors. He said that anybody accused under blasphemy charges should be killed on the spot by Muslims as their religious obligation and that there was no need for legal proceedings for a blasphemer. These remarks appeared in the newspapers of Pakistan, including the Urdu publications Insaf and Khabrain on August 28, 2000. Justice Akhtar said (Ilm Din) Shaheed law is available to respond to any blasphemy against the prophet: “We shall slit every tongue that is guilty of insolence against the Holy Prophet.” Justice Khwaja Sharif is well known for his views too.

www.humanrights.asia/ahrc-news/AHRC-ART-057-2013

Op-ed:              O God, save Islam from ‘Muslims’

… (Here)  Who and when, anyone may kill anyone after designating him a ‘Kafir’

The entire city claims to be Muslim!

Enough is enough. The flood of tyranny and blood is now passing over our heads. It is your (authorities’) responsibility to put a stop to this wild tsunami. This is no time for prostration; it is time to rise. These people (extremists) should be given a clear ultimatum to lay down their arms. If they do not comply the state power should destroy them entirely and put an end to their movement. We have lost 45,000 precious lives as a result of their inhuman idiotic philosophy.

Dr. Ejaz Akbar Khawaja in the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, October 6, 2013

Op-ed:

The general consensus is that had Rehman Malik been an interior minister of any true substance, he would have banned all sectarian outfits. Instead under his watch, even those that were banned by the Musharraf regime in 2001, have resurfaced under new names. Certainly, Malik could have ordered a strict implementation of the law against wall-chalking, loudspeakers and hate material. He banned Youtube, but seems unable to ban social media websites that preach sectarian hate.

Cover story: The monthly Newsline March 2013   

Op-ed:              KARBLA continues

The ASWJ vowed to make Pakistan a Sunni Muslim state through legislation. ASWJ Chief, Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Ludhianwi declared that he would nominate his party members for parliamentary seats and not allow any Shia Muslim to win the coming elections. Thus, he said, all the parliamentarians in the National Assembly would be Sunni Muslims, and a bill would be passed in the house with a majority that would declare Shias non-Muslims.

Muhammad Shehzad in The Newsline, January 2013

Op-ed:              Plumbing new depths

The politicians rage against America and declare preference for ‘ideology’ against democracy to mollify the Taliban. But are the terrorists listening? The fact that Imran Khan’s party has been lightly attacked, Jamaat Islami attacked in Upper Dir and PPP in lower Dir, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s party has been literally slaughtered in Kurram Agency and Hangu, points to two possible causes; either the Taliban will simply not accept anyone submitting to “pagan” democracy or they are too fragmented internally to stick to their leadership’s immunity granted to some political parties. While the Maulana refused to blame the Taliban for the Kurram attack, Imran Khan has firmed up his credentials with them by speaking against the most wronged minority in the country, the Ahmadis.

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130510&page=1

 

VIEW:     Pakistan: No country for Ahmadis — Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

Regardless of their religious beliefs, Ahmadis have the right to lead private lives, being citizens of this state, which if seen logically, is granted to them by the very constitution that takes away their right to practice religion freely .

Some call it persecution, others call it social exclusion, but I think of it as culling: the selective slaughter of a community already marginalised to the extent that they do not feel safe even inside their homes. Thanks to Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for sanctioning this slaughter.

Regardless of their religious beliefs, Ahmadis have the right to lead private lives, being citizens of this state, which if seen logically, is granted to them by the very constitution that takes away their right to practice religion freely. They have an equal right to get an education, participate in politics, social events and gatherings and conduct their businesses, etc. But none of this happens in Pakistan.

The most recent episode of persecution against Ahmadis at the state level occurred when right before the May 2013 election, separate voter lists were released for them. This led to the disassociation of the Ahmadiyya community from the general election. They were of the view that being citizens of Pakistan, they have the right to vote like every other Pakistani irrespective of his/her religious beliefs. If there are no separate voter lists for other minorities residing in Pakistan then there should not be any separate voter list for Ahmadis. However, this reservation was never addressed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The hatred against Ahmadis is so deeply rooted in our society that even representatives of the government and its institutions avoid taking sides with Ahmadis.

The ECP announced re-election in two constituencies in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province because women did not participate in these elections. The women of these constituencies did not even ask for a re-election, but this decision was taken on ECP’s own behest as a precedent to ensure participation of women in elections but Ahmadis were totally ignored as if they did not even exist. This is certainly not Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan where minorities were to be as free as Muslims. Mr. Jinnah was against theocracy and believed that the only role of the ulama and religious scholars was to provide religious guidance to people. However, it all went wrong after Mr. Jinnah’s death. Muhammad Zafrullah Khan was a prominent jurist, a close aide of Mr. Jinnah and the person who drafted the Pakistan resolution. He was an Ahmadi but Mr. Jinnah did not bother about his religious beliefs. Mr. Khan was appointed the first foreign minister of Pakistan. He also served as a judge in the International Court of Justice, The Hague. Professor Dr Abdus Salam is another prominent Ahmadi, the only Pakistani to have won a Nobel Prize. He too was disenfranchised not only by Pakistanis but by Pakistan as well.

In fact, a number of key positions in the early days of Pakistan and even before the creation of Pakistan were held by members of the Ahmadiyya community. And the only reason was they were educated and had the capacity to fight for Pakistan. However, the state disenfranchised the Ahmadiyya community on the behest of our so-called religious leaders. These were the same people who called Quaid-e-Azam ‘Kafir-e-Azam’ and opposed the creation of Pakistan, but later became guardians of the state and its religion.

Just a few days ago, on September 8, 2013, an anniversary was celebrated all over Pakistan. This anniversary marked 39 years of the passing of the Second Amendment that pronounced Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Some of the most shameless and hate-filled statements were released by many a prominent religious leader of Pakistan on this day. Some called for the social and economic boycott of Ahmadis, some branded their activities as suspicious and called for serious action against them.

A famous TV personality or more appropriately a televangelist, Dr Amir Liaqat Hussain, whose morality was questioned after a video clip showed him hurling indecent comments on the participants of his show, was also at the forefront against the Ahmadis. He asked the Muslim community to unite in support of the blasphemy laws. He opposed any amendment to the blasphemy laws in the country. Another famous religious figure called Ahmadis ‘stooges of the west’ while a ‘Pir Sahib’ called for the banishment of Ahmadis from the country.

These statements mirrored what is happening in Pakistan. Ahmadis are being persecuted not only by their fellow Pakistanis but by the state as well and this is the bitter truth. Perhaps this is ‘no country for Ahmadis’.

The writer is a development consultant. She tweets at @GulminaBilal and can be reached at coordinator@individualland.com

Daily Times – Site Edition       Friday, September 13, 2013

Op-ed:              Controlling the deep state

The recent terrorist incident in a Lahore food street after an interregnum of three years is a rude awaking that the PML-N provincial government’s ‘ceasefire’ with the militants no longer holds. In this context Shahbaz Sharif must came out clean on the charge leveled by Pasha before the (Abbotabad) Commission that the Lahore police protected those who attacked Qadianis in 2010.

Arif Nizami in Pakistan Today of July 13, 2013

Op-ed:              The madrassa networks of Sindh

In a recent survey carried out by the Sindh Home Ministry, there are 12,545 madrassas in the province, of which 2,161 are sectarian and dangerous.

About 74 percent of these religious schools are in Urban Sindh, Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukhar. At least 8,191 out of them opened after 9/11. About 67 percent of the madrassas in the province are owned by people who do not have a Sindh domicile.

According to the survey, 6,191 of the madrassas belong to the Deobandi school of thought 2,811 are Barelvi, 412 follow the Ahle Hadith doctrine and 512 belong to the Shia fiqh.

The population of madrassa students in Sindh according to the Home Ministry survey is estimated at up to 120,000 to 150,000…..

“There are over 600 madrassas in Sindh which are red flagged and termed dangerous,” said a source in the Sindh Home Ministry. But analysts say it is hard to prove how a specific religious curriculum promotes hatred, violence and prejudice towards various sects within Islam and non-Muslims, especially when the entire state and private school curriculum is designed to promote, inculcate and incite the spirit of jihad and hatred among children as young as five.

Ali K Chishti in the weekly The Friday Times of July 12, 2013

Op-ed:              Ma La La Land

… The PML-N didn’t send any government representative to stand by Malala. … The government of KPK said absolutely nothing about Malala’s day or her speech. …

The nasty truth is that no one in this country’s leadership (except for the admirable ANP who supported Malala vocally after the attempt on her life) wanted to publicly align themselves with Malala or her cause of women’s education, or even support her notionally, for fear of the Taliban, of the Jamaat Islami, and of what they imagine to be their own incurably ‘conservative’ (i.e. resentful, thwarted, West-hating) vote bank. If you ever wanted to see a definition of Cowardice, this is it. And it wears tuxedoes in London and hair-plugs in Model Town.

Fayes Kantawala in The Friday Times of July 19, 2013  

Op-ed:              From Apologist to Ally

The Punjab government has taken up ‘heroic’ task of fighting the teaching of ‘comparative religion’ in the curriculum. Our estranged brothers TTP, and the not so estranged Lashkar e Jhangvi, are hard at work to make sure that there is no other religion (at least followers) left in Pakistan to compare to. The Punjab police recently demolished minarets of an Ahmadi mosque, how dare they pretend to be Pakistanis? Mian Sahib apparently seems to be reconsidering his position on talks. If possible Mian Sahib should avoid trips to Saudi Arabia while he takes his sweet time on the question.

    Saroop Ejaz in The Express Tribune; September 23, 2013

Op-ed:              Malala and the TTP

The young girl’s steadfastness in purpose and the ambassadorial role that has settled upon her has no doubt irked the TTP, but nothing can be more shameful than the contrast between the victim that wants peace and the perpetrators of violence that desire to peddle death.

The Dawn’s lead editorial on October 9, 2013

Op-ed:              Has the army learnt its lesson?

Al-Qaeda’s ideology has been influenced by Maududi’s writings. The seeds of intolerance and bigotry in the country created by Jinnah were sown by Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami. Indeed, the Jamaat was the inventor of danda-bardar-lathi-bearing-Islam. The Taliban have gone a crucial step further and become the Janissaries of Kalashnikov-Islam. It’s a difference of degree, not substance. And the army had a hand in these transformations. Not surprisingly, Gen Zia was a fervent admirer of the Maulana and his brand of Islam. And for Pakistan’s passage into the dark ages we know how much we owe Gen Zia. If, oblivious of all this, the ISPR can still bring itself to idolize Maududi’s services to Islam then perhaps the time may have come to abandon all hope.

Islamabad Diary by Ayaz Amir in Print Edition of November 15, 2013

Op-ed:              Our Noxious Nostalgia

Pakistan is predominantly Muslim, but Muslim rule for a thousand years in the region did little to change or dilute our collective shadiness. British rule followed by rising Indian military power seems to add to our dark national obsession. The maddening clamor has reached a pitch where seemingly well groomed and well informed men also tend to be swayed into day dreaming and absurd discourse built around obscure prophecies and fabricated ancient forecasts. These skewed men and the likes of them are the ones thoroughly blindfolded by the triple menace of fossil brained mullah, partisan historian and dubious writer. They taint the truth; hide facts and white wash motives. As a result see what kind of madness, irrationality and inhumanity have we plunged into as a country. Minorities are relentlessly persecuted, Shias, Ahmadis and Christians being slaughtered in the name of religion and vulnerable sections of our society being hounded out and dispossessed. There is hardly a whimper from those in power or clergy. Yet our pious conceit and self righteous arrogance is boundless.

Brig® Mehboob Qadir E-address:clay.potter@hotmail.com

Op-ed:              A matter of sensitivity and alternative sensitivity

The state has lost its sense of responsibility, control and direction leaving the field open to all sorts of rogues, ruffians and assassins from all over the world in the name of so-called jihad.

Mehboob Qadir in the Daily Times of November 30, 2013

 

 

 

Op-eds

2012

Generals play footsie with radicals

(With reference to the ultra-right rally in Lahore on December 18, 2011)

Any rational Pakistani should be worried. Worried that today a lethal battery of nuclear warheads lies surrounded by an enigmatic military now being carried on the shoulders of men who applaud murderers accused of ‘blasphemy’, spit obscenities on actresses visiting India but refuse to condemn those who have mercilessly slaughtered over 36,000 soldiers, civilians and women and children.

Nadeem Piracha in the daily Dawn, December 25, 2011

National paralysis

THAT a nation of 180 million people should sleepwalk towards the brink, as if under some kind of hypnosis, is frightening.

The nature and variety of challenges that we face today beggars the imagination, but the self-imposed paralysis persists to make the body politic a feast for predators. Pakistan, unclaimed and unattended is up for grabs, and beset with all sorts of social, political and economic destabilisers one can think of.

By Iqbal Jafar in the Dawn, Lahore; January 8, 2012

AHRC Report:          The killing of Shias …

The government and parliament must immediately introduce a hate speech law, to punish those who offend the feelings of the religious by disturbing a religious ceremony or creating public calumny. The law should also prohibit public expression of insults of a person or a group on account of national, ethnic, racial, or religious affiliation or the lack of a religious affiliation.

AHRC-STM-038-2012, February 29, 2012

To ban or not to ban… Shezan juice

On Sunday, The Express Tribune reported on a monumental decision taken by the Lahore Bar Association. These lawyers, some of whom vocally supported convicted murderer and all-round crazy person Mumtaz Qadri (also a lawyers’ favourite in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, where garland of roses were placed around his ‘blessed’ neck and offers were placed for his ‘holy’ MP5 submachine gun), decided that a major food and beverage brand should be banned from all court premises because it is owned by every Pakistani bigot’s favourite punching bag, Ahmadis. This was followed up by a vow to “also… ban other products at a later stage”.

The Express Tribune Blog; posted on February 12, 2012

Black coats and blacker faces

Whilst democracy as practiced by the present dispensation ekes out its revenge upon the Pakistani nation, accompanied by the contempt held, not only for the Supreme Court of the land but for the people at large, an unhealthy segment of the national mindset is sinking into the national sewerage system.

This publication did well to report on February 11, the utterly disgraceful and disgusting action taken by members of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) in passing a resolution asking for a prohibition on the sale in all court canteens of a brand of cold drinks produced by a company owned by members of the Ahmadi community. That this could happen in Lahore, a city which boasts of proud enlightened heritage and that it was instigated by men supposedly also enlightened by dint of their being educated and qualified as lawyers, is indicative of the depths to which the national mindset has sunk.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has much to answer for. His second amendment of 1974, whereby he transformed an entire community that had, since the birth of this country, been a member of the majority into a minority, has after that date done much disservice to the nation. It has been the cause of strife, death and destruction and encouraged and defined bigotry as well as intolerance.

By Amina Jilani, published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012

What went wrong?

What has happened over the decades is a gross betrayal of the state’s founding principles and a mockery of the values enunciated by the country’s founder. Pakistan can survive, prosper and find a place of honour in the world community as a democratic nation if the rights of the federating units and minorities are not limited to the document that is the constitution but, in fact protected and sincerely enforced.

The lead editorial of the Dawn on Pakistan Day, March 23, 2012

Minorities

But what has happened in the country for a long time, particularly in Punjab, is in contradiction to what the Quaid said (on August 11, 1947). For instance recently a campaign to spread hatred against the Ahmadi community has started in Rawalpindi….

Chief Minister Punjab often claims he will implement Jinnah’s vision in its true form in the country. If the chief minister truly respects and wants to implement the Quaid’s vision, he needs to take notice of this issue without wasting time.

Raja Shafa tullah’s letter in the News International of March 9, 2012

A few bring a bad name

It has been a complicated time for the Lahore Bar Association, giving ban on soft drink brand proposed recently by a faction of lawyers.

The entire legal community has resultantly come under fire with its reputation – if any remained – plummeting into the negative. Yet while sitting in the District bar room, I find certain colleague’s insensitivity towards the destruction of the legal fraternity’s image in the press more perturbing.

Posted by Affan Taj on March 1, 2012  http:www.dawn.com

            Grim details of Ahmadi school teacher’s torture death emerge

It is with the connivance of a provincial law minister that the Punjab Police have been able to hide the criminal practice of the police of keeping suspects in illegal detention for months during which time they are tortured to get confessional statements and bribes. The provincial law minister has been instrumental in sheltering the high officials of the police from involvement in these heinous crimes. These officers include the highest police officer of the district.

The Punjab government has not yet started investigation into the incident of arbitrary detention, torture and misuse of police power against the police officers concerned. It is very well known fact that the provincial government and the provincial law minister, particularly, have connections with extremist groups and banned organizations who are very much against the Ahmadis and who have been involved in the killings of Ahmadis and Shia the second largest Muslim sect.

Daily Times – Site Edition on April 04, 2012

The enemy within

This enemy can be seen elsewhere, too. In Karachi the same hand is targeting Shia professionals. Recently, it displayed its handiwork in Chenab Nagar where it assumed the form of a few policemen. They tortured an innocent teacher to an extent that he could not survive. Torture to death in custody is quite common, but since the victim in this case was an Ahmadi citizen they lost all sense of human mercy.

The ubiquitous enemy we are talking about has certain advantages over the state gendarmes. He can easily melt away in any congregation. He is disarmingly modest, does not appear to be materially corrupt and the corruption of his mind is too subtle to be evident to ordinary citizens.

Also, unlike the mercenaries in state service, he believes in his mission and is keen to die for it. It will not be possible to defeat this enemy unless all parties and people of goodwill come together, sink their differences and establish all Pakistani citizens’ equal right to the freedom of belief. That is the only route of salvation and we do not have much time to cover it.

I.A.  Rehman in the daily Dawn; April 19, 2012

Legal victimization

…Interestingly, the Chamra Mandi incident (defiling the Ahmadiyya mosque in Sultanpura, Lahore) occurred some days after anti-Ahmadi protests and public processions held in and around the locality in the past couple of weeks where Muslim clerics delivered hate speeches. Another anti-Ahmadi public meeting was also called after this incident. According to some locals, a Sunni Ulama federation, in its May 5 procession, also distributed membership forms among the youth urging them to stop and expose the Ahmadi activities.

(Hina) Jilani maintains that the problem would remain while there is change in the basic structure of the state. “It is not the mindset of the people. This structure provides a playground to the mullas to use their tool of religion to grab control and power.”

              Vaqar Gillani in The News International Sunday Magazine, May 20, 2012

While the state looks the other way….

One thing that everyone seems to remember about the chaos of Partition was the lack of state. There was no one to turn to, no institution to take responsibility. Is this not, what is happening in Sultanpura, in Lahore? (to the Ahmadiyya mosque)

     Ayesha Haroon in The News, May 5, 2012

Prosecute Ahmadi massacre suspects: HRW

New York:       Pakistani’s federal and provincial governments should bring to justice those responsible for the May 2010 attacks on Ahmadiyya places of worship that killed 94 people, Human Rights Watch said today.

“The Punjab provincial government should be providing extra security to Ahmadiyya mosques instead of siding with those terrorizing worshipers and attacking their places of worship,” Adams said. “Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadi laws need to be repealed, not enforced.”

Human Rights Watch urged the government of Punjab province, controlled by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, to investigate and prosecute those responsible for intimidation, threats, and violence against the Ahmadiyya community. Militant groups that have publicly been involved in such efforts include the Sunni Tehrik, Tehrik-e-Tahafaz-e-Naomoos-e-Risalat, Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Difa-e-Pakistan Council, and others acting under the Pakistani Taliban’s umbrella. Leaders of these groups have frequently threatened to kill Ahmadis and attack the mosques where killings have taken place as well as other Ahmadi mosques.

“The government’s continued use of discriminatory criminal laws against Ahmadis and other religious minorities is indefensible,” Adams said. “As long as such laws remain on the books, the Pakistani state will be seen as a persecutor of minorities and an enabler of abuses.”

However, the government seldom brings charges against perpetrators of anti-Ahmadi violence and discrimination. Research by Human Rights Watch indicates that the police have failed to apprehend anyone implicated in such activity in the last several years.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/27/pakistan-prosecute-ahmadi-massacre-suspects

Religious freedom violations in South Asia

… Research strongly suggests that the protection of religious freedom is correlated with less conflict and is central to the lessening of violent religious extremism, the maintenance of security, the consolidation of democracy, and the advancement of socioeconomic progress.

….Religious extremism also threatens Pakistan’s security and stability.

Among Pakistani’s religious communities, Ahmadis face this most severe legal restrictions and officially sanctioned discrimination. Ahmadis are prevented by law from engaging in the full practice of their faith and may face criminal charges for a host of basic religious practices, including the use of religious terminology. Egregious acts of violence have been perpetrated against Ahmadis. For instance, recently a well-known Ahmadi school teacher, Master Abdul Qadoos Ahmad, was reportedly tortured to death while in police custody in Punjab province. In addition, anti-Ahmadi laws have created a climate for vigilante violence against the members of this community.

    Journal of International Affairs, Columbia, SIPA, 15.05.2012                    

A community no one cares about

Now Pakistan is in a ridiculous situation in which there is a common list of voters, which contains the names of all the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist voters; and a strange second list, termed as non-Muslim, comprising only Ahmadis. No Pakistani has the right to say that Pakistan has corrected itself and returned to the joint electorates of the original 1973 Constitution. True and non-fanatic Pakistanis feel the sting of conscience over the way this community has been treated. Other communities may also be persecuted in the coming days, but nothing will surpass the horror of the way the Ahmadis are treated.

Published in The Express Tribune on June 17, 2012 

(Ahmadis’ persecution)

The persecution suffered by the minorities in Pakistan is only 3-4 percent reported in the Urdu press and electronic media, however anti-Ahmadiyya events are given a total blackout. This is done to avoid an accusation of being an Ahmadi. Once accused this charge sticks over lifetime regardless of all explanations. Our intelligentsia is so afraid of this that they are not prepared to speak in favour of Ahmadis in the media or any forum. If ever someone opens his mouth in this regard, he will first make it clear that he is from a Sunni family.

Shoaib Adil in the Nia Zamana, March 2012

Silence of the Lambs

Waiting for justice in the Land of the Pure, Bradley Cooper of Human Rights Watch deemed it obscene that two years after the massacre (in Lahore Ahmadiyya mosques), the government had still not brought the accused to trial. “By pandering to extremists who foment violence against the Ahmadis, the government emboldens militants who target the beleaguered community, and reinforces fear and insecurity for all religious minorities.”

According to HRW, since the bloodshed of 28th May 2010, there has been intensification in hate campaign against Ahmadis in Pakistan.

Saba Eitezaz in The Friday Times of June 8, 2012  

                                Ziaul Haq – Murshid, marva na daina!

For decades the army has not only been shopping for these private puttars (sons) in the bazaars, it has also set up factories to manufacture them. It has, in fact, raised entire armies of them. When you raise the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Sipah-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al-Badar Mujahideen, others encouraged by the thriving marketplace will go ahead and create outfits like the Anjuman Tahuffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat and Anjuman-Tahuffuz-e-Namoos-e-Aiysha. And it’s not just Kashmir, Afghanistan and Chechnya they want to liberate; they want to go back in time and seek revenge for a perceived slur that may or may not have been cast by someone more than thirteen hundred years ago in a country far, far away.

http://www.newslinemagazine.com/2011/06/murshid-marwa-na-daina/

Resolution: His Holinesss, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad

A Resolution was introduced in the US House of Representatives in honour of his visit to the United States. The introductory paragraph of the Resolution stated:

“Welcoming His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide spiritual and administrative head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, to Washington, DC, and recognizing his commitment to world peace, justice, non-violence, human rights, religious freedom and democracy.”

www.alislam.org/press-release/Capitol-Hill-event-June.pdf 

Zia’s long shadows

Of all the political legacies in the country’s relatively short history, Gen Muhammad Ziaul Haq would be the most enduring, toxic and tamper-proof.

                                                                The daily Dawn, Lahore; July 7, 2012

Shades of bigotry

There is an argument, however, that a piece of our humanity dies every time we accept gross injustices because to do otherwise is inconvenient.

Peter Jacob from the National Commission for Justice and Peace goes further. “The status of minorities is directly related to whether Pakistan would like to survive as a respectable nation. It’s not a peripheral issue. We cannot have a bigoted, intolerant society and still survive. We are at a defining moment. We have to decide where we want to go.”

http://dawn.com/2012/07/06/shades-of-bigotry/

We, the rejected ones!

… The day our Islamist heroes were destroying the minarets of this place of worship (in Kharian) I happened to meet a bearded fellow in the premises of Lahore High Court. He introduced himself as an activist of Khatme Nabuwwat. He stated with great pride, “The Mirzais (Ahmadis) have been reduced to the level of Untouchables (Chuhray); and soon, by the grace and blessing of Allah, they will stand eliminated.”

Yasser Latif Hamdani in the daily Mashriq, Lahore; July 27, 2012 

Do Ahmadis deserve to live in Pakistan

Historians caution that the fetters imposed on Ahmadiyya community are reminiscent of the Nazi Nuremburg Laws and are certainly much worse than the Jim Crow Laws of the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The growing violence and hate against Ahmadis along with the general decline of the Pakistani state is creating a situation very similar to Germany between the two World Wars of the last century, and many fear a brutal extermination of this community from Pakistan.

Yasser Latif Hamdani in The Friday Times, Lahore; August 31, 2012

The ideology of extremism

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto professed “Islamic socialism” but he also shepherded the second amendment to the Constitution under which Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims. He caved in to the religious right, and was sent to the gallows. Twenty-eight years later, his daughter was assassinated by an off-shoot of the same extremist mindset that he had sought to appease.

  Iftikahr Murshid in The News International, Lahore; August 17, 2012

Thinking aloud: Hate mongering in God’s name

But I wonder what the sentinels of the fortress of Islam called Pakistan want to do about the fact that, in public places, one cannot distinguish an Ahmadi from a Muslim by his looks. They have not yet woken up to the danger inherent in this obvious ability of Ahmadis to pose as ‘Muslims’ and deceive unsuspecting innocent Muslims.

Perhaps Ahmedis should henceforth not be allowed to shave their facial hair completely or to keep a full beard or a full moustache. They ought to be compelled by law to keep half a moustache or half a beard. Should any Ahmadi insist on both moustache and beard for religious reasons, I suggest he may be permitted to grow half of each, but only on opposite sides of the face, and with prior official permission. I cannot think of a more secure way to prevent the contamination of real Muslims by these ‘false’ Muslims.

The writer is a former academic with a doctorate in modern history and can be reached at raziazmi@hotmail.com

      Razi Azmi in Daily Times – Site Edition of may 16, 2012 

Address our minorities’ concerns

The Pakistani diaspora is usually at the forefront of expressing disgruntlement when it comes to complaining about Islamophobia abroad. Yet, as a nation, we continue to treat minorities within Pakistan itself abhorently.

Although no fan of index-based rankings, it was nonetheless disgruntling to see Pakistan listed as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for minorities, based on the Peoples Under Threat index for 2011.

The daily The Express Tribune; October 15, 2012

Report: Religious bias, suppression jeopardize citizen’s rights

Lahore, October 7: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says the citizens’ right to life and freedom to practice their religious belief is in jeopardy because of growing religious intolerance and enforced disappearances and detentions, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun Khwa….

The Commission reaffirmed its demand for an end to the discrimination against the Ahmadis and to ensure the inclusion of their names in the joint voters’ list.

The daily Dawn; Lahore, October 8, 2012

http://dawn.com/2012/10/08/religious-bias-suppression-jeopardise-citizens-rights/

The 1974 NA proceedings on the Ahmadis

… Consider the role of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1974 when it declared Ahmadis to be out of the fold of Islam, which has since created sectarian monsters in Pakistan of which there seems to be no solution any more. The in-camera proceedings of the National Assembly – especially the cross examination of the two Ahmadi delegations, one from the Qadiani Jamaat and the other from Lahori Jamaat – are now common knowledge, thanks to a public interest writ petition No. 7283/2010 by one Bashir Ahmad Khan adjudicated by his Lordship, Ijaz Chaudhry, then of the Lahore High Court. This report is an eye-opener as to how far the ‘liberal’ PPP went in its efforts to declare an entire community out of the pale of Islam.

The Daily Times, the Site Edition; October 22, 2012

Towards Hotel Mohenjodaro

The miscreants who attacked a Hindu temple in Karachi to prove their religious bona fides have been charged under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. It is about time. Now let us also consider the state of that forced minority the faithful love to hate, i.e. the Ahmedis. Who is going to bell the cat and charge the passport offices of the country under Section 295-A for routinely abusing this community?

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C10%5C08%5Cstory_8-10-2012_pg3_6

Pakistan: Violence against the Ahmadi community, a religious minority continues unabated

With its reelection to the Human Rights Council Pakistan must now show the world that it is serious about fulfilling its international obligations. One area that needs urgent attention is the violence committed against religious minorities, in particular the harassment and violence perpetrated against the Ahmadis, which often happens with the co-operation of the Police …

An article by AHRC released as AHRC-ART-121-2012

Tracing hate

It is believed that Pakistan’s descent into the quagmire of violence, partaken in the name of religion has its roots in 1974 when the otherwise ‘secular’ government of Z.A. Bhutto declared (through legislation) the Ahmadi community as a religious minority.

 Nadeem F Piracha in DAWN.COM/2012/12/13/tracing.hate

                        Ahmadi graves desecration – the death of Conscience

…More tragic is the fact that our respected Chief Justice, the custodian of human rights, fails to take any action against the mistreatment of living – and now also dead – minorities. If there ever was a suo moto action to take against anything, it would be this.

Faiza Mirza in DAWN.COM/2012/12/14/Ahmadis

No peace – even in the grave

… the Punjab government on the other hand had been denying the presence of any extremist elements in Punjab. This denial syndrome has allowed extremists and militants to expand their activities and the result is what we witnessed in the form of this incident of the desecration of graves.

…On the other, the state authorities are involved in persecuting minorities themselves. In such situation the minorities are left with minimum options – to either immigrate to other countries, if that is not possible, face persecution.

Gulmina Bilal Ahmad in The Daily Times – Site edition of 7 Dec, 2012

Creating space for minorities

The graves of Ahmadis are desecrated by excavation. Young girls from scheduled castes are raped. Temples are demolished. Shias are persecuted. Christians are murdered. Sikhs are abducted. It seems that a systematic ideological warfare against minorities in Pakistan has been waged.

We are marching towards a bleak future that is awaiting Pakistan without beauty of religious minorities.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted in Pakistan every month. Hindu minorities, during Taliban rule in Swat, were forced to wear red headgear such as turbans as a symbol. (Emphasis added)

      Jamil Junejo in the Dawn, Lahore of December 18, 2012

 

2011

The true blasphemers

It is not Aasia Bibi who deserves to die or Dr Valiyani who merits persecution; not only should there be a repeal of the blasphemy laws, Pakistan needs an ultra-rapid detoxification from its rabid mullahs that have hijacked Islam and misrepresented the Prophet (PBUH). They are the true blasphemers.

Mahjabeen Islam in the Daily Times, Lahore; January 1, 2011

An assassination in Pakistan

Taseer’s killing provides the government and citizenry an unequivocal and unpleasant reminder that state appeasement of extremist groups does not work. The Punjab provincial government run by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif needs to accept that its historical and ongoing tolerance of violence of extremist groups is simply untenable. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party-led federal government must also take a hard look at its conduct in events culminating in Taseer’s murder.

Dayan Hasan in the International Herald Tribune; January 6, 2011

The madrassa menace

The number of madrassahs across Pakistan stands at 28,982. This number was at 2,861 in 1988 and 246 in 1947….

Punjab has slowly become the nerve centre of Jihad and nearly 50 percent of Jihadis belong to this province.

The Friday Times of January 21, 2011

                        Ghazi Mumtaz Qadri, every admirer of the Prophet supports you  

…. An average citizen is demanding that his (Taseer’s) coffin be disinterred from the graveyard of army martyrs, and dumped in Gora Qabristan Jail Road, Gora Qabristan, near Taxali or the Bahishti Maqbra of Mirza Bashiruddin in Chenab Nagar so as to make it convenient for him his solidarity with minorities, even in death; lest there is a breaking news that someone unknown blasted away Salman Taseer’s barrow in the Pak Army’s graveyard.

                                                            Hafiz Shafiq ur Rahman in the daily Din, Lahore

 

Mr. Musharraf refuses to accept that his decade long authoritarian rule primarily accounts for the many ills currently afflicting this country. Not one major project can be credited to him nor one worthwhile policy that he could bequeath to his successors.

Tariq Fatemi in the Dawn; January 13, 2011

Intolerant Indonesia

In a jerky video that’s shaken up Indonesia, young men take turns whacking three prostrate, nearly naked bodies with wooden sticks. The blows land with sickening thumps. Rocks follow. The bodies twitch; the surrounding crowd is jubilant. Shouts of ‘God is great’ can be heard. A policeman waves his hands but does not interfere.

The three men killed in the video belong to an offshoot of Islam known as Ahmadiyya,…

And the day after the irate crowd in Cikeusik, Banten province, murdered the three Ahmadis, Muslim rioters in unrelated attacks torched several Christian churches and attacked a court house, incised over what they saw as an insufficiently harsh sentence given to a Christian man accused of blasphemy.

                                                            The weekly Newsweek, Pakistan; February 21, 2011

Persecution of minorities

… My advice to Muslim governments is simple; stop ranting against the West, take a few lessons in citizenship and minorities rights from Europe and America and start listening to all your citizens, not just the small number of extremists which carry guns.

      Shada Islam from Brussels, in the Dawn; February 5, 2011

Peaceful Lives, Violent Deaths: The Silent Cries of the Ahmadis

… But regardless of faith or identity, we cannot remain deaf to their silent cries. For by doing so, we sanction the actions of their slayers.

It is my hope that the international community recognizes its duty to protect the right of all people to believe according to the dictates of their hearts, their minds and their consciences, and that the silent permission of persecution by absence of response, the lack of concern, the attitude of indifference quickly comes to an end.

Joseph K. Grieboski in the news website Huffington Post, USA; posted March 23, 2011

(Deobandis)

Ironically, today’s Pakistani “Deobandi” has become, in Pakistan, synonymous with religious extremism and even terror but the Ulema of Deoband in India continue to be secular, democratic and firmly against fundamentalist terror, as witness their 2008-09 fatwa against terrorism in the name of Islam, while Deobandis in Pakistan have become the single most important source of domestic and international religion-based concern in neighboring Pakistan. While Islam is what unites Pakistan, it is Islamisation which divides it.

                        Mani Shankar Aiyar in The Friday Times of March 11, 2011

                                    Chenab Nagar: Feats of Shaheed Rana Abrar

These days, according to common perception, journalism is closely linked to car, bungalow, bank balance, ‘plot’ and ‘permit’.

I know such fellow-journalists in towns who draft a ‘news’ about a victim, and thereafter ring up the related tormentor, “So and so has told me this news; if you fail to do ‘such and such’ for me, you will read the news the next day in the paper. This harmless way of blackmailing is now well-known and archaic … But with the ‘progress’ made by journalism, blackmailing, lies, favouritism and the business of self-interest has skyrocketed.”

                        Naveed Masud Hashmi in the daily Ausaf, Lahore; March 17, 2011

Opportunity in Khyber

Mangal Bagh and his organization – named the Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) but really just a group of criminals and thugs who have cloaked themselves in the veneer of Islam – continue to remain a serious threat in Khyber and beyond.

The daily Dawn editorial, Lahore; April 4, 2011

                                    Carry on, Jeeves (Political landscape of Pakistan)

Let us just give up. Let political leaders pay any price that the nation must pay, just so they may stay in office. Let the mullah take the lives of our young ones on the promise of seeing paradise. Let economic disaster eat away the flesh of our poor. Let us rapidly slip into isolation. Let us remain speechless when the young beseech us to give them some hope of a better future. Let us remain bewildered while Jeeves carries on.

Asma Jahangir in the Dawn, May 17, 2011

In camera

Mr. Nazir Naji, a renowned journalist wrote his column in the daily Jang on the ‘in camera’  joint session of the parliament in May, and referred to a strong attack by Maulana Ataur Rehman on Pak Army and ISI to which in response General Pasha (of ISI) threatened to disclose all about Maulana Fazlur Rahman (of JUI) and his brother Ataur Rehman and said, ‘If I become candid, I shall tell (the session) as to who has been receiving dollars from Saudi Arabia and Libya.’

Nazir Naji in the daily Jang of May 15, 2011

Gloomy assessments …

Look we have been saying it for years. You need to shut the shop of Jihad for good. All these groups they raised like pets in Fata and elsewhere, they need to be wiped out. Enough of this good militant, bad militant logic, a veteran security analyst claimed.

Cyril Almeida in the Dawn of May 24, 2011

Fire lit by religious extremists

Every Pakistani who is current with facts knows that since the day the first elected democratic parliament of Pakistan unanimously declared Qadianis as Non-Muslims for the purpose of law and constitution, in the 1970’s, such (religion-based blood-stained) incidents are on the rise. Now, it is a rare day of jubilation for the people, when some Deobandi cleric, Brelvi preacher, Ahle Hadith mulla, Shia Zakir or story-teller is not murdered.

Hafiz Shafiq ur Rahman in the Din, May 10, 2011

Zia ul Haq …

There is general consensus among the above mentioned groups (all over the country) that General Ziaul Haq and his 11 years’ rule proved disastrous for Pakistan. The poisonous seeds sown in his era have now become huge trees.

BBC Urdu; May 17, 2011

JUI(F) and JI                         (WikiBite)

JUI-F is dangerous because it is good at ‘deceit’. At least Jamaat-i-Islami, (ANP Senator Afrasiab Khattak) observed, is consistent in its support for militants.

WikiLeaks in The daily Dawn, Lahore; June 13, 2011

After Usama

After the death of Usama, Jihadist Al-Qaida and terrorists are not going to target the US and the West for the present; their primary target now is Pakistan. All these Jihadi forces will now concentrate on taking over political power in Pakistan.

Zafar Agha in the monthly Nia Zamana, June 2011

Islamofascism is a reality

Pakistan is destined to drown in blood from civil war: Pervez Hoodbhoy.

Posted on NewAgeIslam. Com on 21 June 2011

A rotten structure

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s nationalization of educational institutions and administrative reforms proved to be a retrogressive step.

Ziaul Haq’s martial law continued the process of decay and deterioration. His main ‘contribution’ was opening the floodgates of corruption. As a matter of fact, apart from corrupt military officials, non-representative politicians, disgruntled civil servants, mullahs and other rightwing elements were his main constituency.

By the time Zia was removed from the scene, the process of all-round deterioration was complete. If ZAB played havoc with the economy and administration, Ziaul Haq was responsible for destroying the social fabric of society, robbing it of its intellectual element and dehumanizing it. The trauma was so great that even after two decades, with several regime changes, things remain almost the same.

Where we stand in July 2011? From mal-governance we have graduated to the absence of governance, and finally reached a stage where the Pakistan state has lost a lot of its ‘stateness’.

Tasneem Siddiqui in the Dawn of July 19, 2011

The other side

Nine thousand madrassahs are attached to the largest board Wafaq al Madaras al Arabia. Apart from that more than 13,000 madrassahs where at least three million male and female students receive education are linked to boards Tanzeem ul Madaris Ahle Sunnat, Wafaq al Madaris al Salafia, Wafaq al Madaris Shia and Jamaat e Islami’s Rabita al Madaris al Islamia. All these five boards of madrassah are under the umbrella of Ittehad Tanzeem al Madaris Diniah. There is a need to make their union more effective.

Hamid Mir in the daily Jang, Lahore of July 18, 2011

Terrorism and extremism

Pakistanis must understand that they cannot defeat terrorism without defeating extremism.

Touqir Hussain in the Dawn, August 4, 2011

                                    Why a secular Pakistan is closer to Islam?

Bhutto’s and Zia’s ‘Islamising’ of Pakistan has yielded bitter fruits and a dark legacy.

Ironically, before such attempt of Islamisation, history suggests that Pakistani society was more peaceful, had less crime and citizens generally felt secure in the practice of their faith.

Amaar Ahmad in Pak Tea House on 4 August, 2011

Why not Allah’s blessings?

We had neutralized the Qadiani menace (in 1974), so we should have surely received God’s pleasure and blessing, but what happened? Other denominations were also accused of Kufr. The author of the 1973 constitution himself faced a campaign in the name of religion as if he had violated religion by sponsoring an Islamic constitution. Consequently he was dispatched by God’s warriors.

Dr Khalid Jan in Al-Sharq, August 28, 2011

Dr Salam, and 1974

Whilst the 1974 amendment in Pakistan’s constitution (regarding Ahmadis) was without doubt a turning point in Salam’s life, the events of 1974 had a far more cataclysmic effect on the future course of Pakistan. For the first time in Pakistan’s nascent history, the Islamists had scented blood and, having made the government bow to their demands, were at last, in the ascendancy.

Munir Khan in the Daily Times, Site Edition on August 24, 2011

‘Crackdown’ no solution

The trauma of multi-ethnic Karachi is linked to the nation’s low level of morality. Unfortunately, Pakistan has no moral leadership, and those who are called ulama are, with rare exceptions, religion peddlers seeking power, and pelf and abject self-projection.

M.A. Siddiqui in the Dawn of September 13, 2011

‘Make murder look like piety’

Extremism in the guise of religion is a canker corroding the soul of the nation. It is monster, without being a myth, which holds the country in its dreadful grip.

  1. Iftikhar Murshid in The News: October 23, 2011

             The spiritual Genocide of Godly people. The Case of Ahmadis in Paksitan.

Commenting on Paksitan’s National Assembly’s decision to change the ground rules for being a Muslim, and declaring Ahmadis to be Non-Muslims, Mr Muhammad Yunus of NewAgeIslam wrote the following:

At one stage, the Prophet’s opponents put enormous pressure on him to alter some wordings or contents of the revelation. This is how the divine voice retorted:

“If he (Muhammad) attributed to us anything other than what is said (ba‘ad al aqawil) (69:44), we would seize him by the right hand (45), then we would sever his aorta (46) and none of you could prevent it.” (69:47)

And some fourteen centuries after the Prophet’s death we have a house of Pakistani parliamentarians, altering the Quranic definition of its core term, ‘a Muslim’ – how whimsical, how immature, how scandalous, how preposterous and how blasphemous!

http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamWarWithinIslam1.aspx?ArticleID=5883.

Note: Mr Yunus is the Joint Author of ‘Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

                                    Pakistan today – Kya Khabar?

The relevant question would be: how are we best known? Say ‘Pakistan’ to foreigners and what are the images that immediately come to their minds? Terrorism. American drone bombings. Cold blooded murders. Kidnapping. Wanton bombings. Turmoil is all over, with the world’s largest internal and external refugee problem. Floods, earthquarkes. Bankruptcy. Begging bowl. Dishonesty. Gender inequality. Obscurantism. Drugs. Guns… . Is there anything positive?

By humayun.gauhar786@gmail.com  on 30 October 2011

                        News Analysis:          Rally in Lahore sends alarm bells ringing

It was an extraordinary spectacle in Minto park at the foot of the Minar-e-Pakistan on Sunday. Jihadists, sectarian warriors, orthodox mullahs, Islamic revivalists, all banding together under the banner of Difa-i-Pakistan Council (Pakistan Defence Council) and vowing to ‘defend’ Pakistan against external aggression.

                                                     Cyril Almeida in the Dawn of December 21, 2011

 

2010

Op-ed:

Then (after 2005) we became the victims of political expediency for the perpetuation of General Pervez Musharaf’s rule, i.e. the concessions he made to the religious alliance, the MMA. The MMA had sympathies for the terrorists and consequently the terrorists became very strong in Swat and Fata and set up parallel governments.

The Jamaat-e-Islami, the JUI and some other religious parties have been facilitating these (terrorist) groups. These parties have been sympathetic to terrorist groups and have not come out openly against them. The linkage of drone strikes with suicide bombings and then justifying the brutalities of terrorist groups is inexcusable.

Brig Mahmood Shah ® former Secretary FATA Secretariat, in The Friday Times, December 18-24, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Yes to church towers, no to minarets

According to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi “Switzerland has done the so-called Al Qaeda or the terrorists the biggest favour.”

 Sergey Balmaso in Provda, quoted in the Nation; January 13, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Eventual ruling on a ruler!

… Third, most critically, the court has relied on vague “Islamic injunctions” and notions of ‘morality’ in the constitution, in particular to Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution inserted by that great Islamist fraudster-gangster General Zia ul Haq. (Emphasis added)

Editorial of The Friday Times; January 22-28, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Surge in Extremism

For a second consecutive day, members of the National Assembly on Tuesday protested the resurfacing of banned extremist groups in the country. The focus was again on Punjab. The province had given a few concerned MNAs sufficient cause to worry when it was reported that Punjab law minister had found it prudent to curry favour with the leadership of an ostensibly defunct extremist group.

                                                Editorial of the daily Dawn; February 25, 2010

 

Op-ed:                        Afghan clue to lost tribes of Israel

Some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes (of Israel), the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case.                   Rory McCarthy from Israel in the daily Observer, London of 17th January 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Sharif and the Taliban

Even by the wretched standards of the cesspit of lies and cravenness that can be the Pakistani political establishment; the comments made on Sunday by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif are extraordinary and demand the most vigorous condemnation possible.

Editorial, the Dawn; Lahore, March 16, 2010

 

 

Op-ed:                                    Smug thugs

Some channels give an open floor to what are quite clearly and men who unabashedly spout hatred and violence in the name of religion and nationalism.

                                    Nadeem Piracha in the daily Dawn; Lahore; March 28, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Bad Taliban pummeled too

After losing nearly 3,000 of his men to the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) he (General Kayani) may now be certain that he will get rid of the criminals posing as champions of the true faith. He has his plate full; he has to clear up Khyber; he has to open up the Kurram, closed to Pakistan for the last three years, and then pay some attention to Punjab too.

Khalid Ahmed in The Friday Times of April 2, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    An intolerant nation

Little did the likes of Dr Abdus Salam or scores of others in the religious and sectarian minorities then know of the dreadful future that awaited them a few decades down. The grisly incidents in Qasur, Gojra, Punjab University and now Faisalabad when weighed against the recent appeal to Taliban by the Punjab chief minister and the role of the Punjab law minister should not surprise anyone. These are as much an expression of the expanding frontiers of fascism of provincial functions in inflaming violence.

Letter to Editor, Dawn; April 22, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Punjab’s militants

The head in the sand policy being pursued by the Punjab government must change. Failure to do so exposes the ruling party to allegations of being sympathetic to the extremists’ cause, at the very least, appeasing the militants. …

The state must move against southern Punjab’s terrorist cells before the situation worsens.

Editorial in the Dawn; June 1, 2010

 

Op-ed:                              The Infrastructure of Jihad

Surely, 10 years since 9/11 and three since Lal Masjid the state ought to have done more to dismantle the urban links to the hotbed of militancy in Fata. Why are the CDs glorifying suicide bombers still so easily available outside certain mosques? Why is the sectarian hate literature disseminated so widely?

But so long as you or I or some idiot like Shehzad can all too easily find Jihadi inspiration and worse in Pakistan proper, we aren’t really doing much to clean up the original mess, are we? …

Cyril Almeida in the Dawn of May 7, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                        Jamiat’s hooliganism

Enough is enough. The hooliganism of the Punjab chapter of the Islami Jamiat Talaba needs to be checked forthwith and immediate efforts are required to rein in the elements inclined towards violence that call the shots in that student organization. …

The Punjab government needs to step in here and stem the rot. Otherwise it will be seen as a party to a cause that no right-thinking person can support.

The daily Dawn; Lahore, May 2, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                        (The JI and IJT)

In early seventies, “Islami Jamiat Talabah, the off-spring of Jamaat Islami committed such outrages in the Panjab University and other colleges in Lahore that their blood-stained stories became the most despicable chapter of (our) history. Its members and other fire-brand members of the Jamaat Islami, pouring forth from educational institutions poisoned the atmosphere of cities. They set on fire book shops in Lahore and other big cities where socialist literature was on sale.”

Syed Naseer Shah in the monthly Nia Zamana of May 2010

 

Op-ed:                                   Infidel-istan

In my personal research, I have found 460 such books published in Pakistan in which recognized scholars of Islamic denominations have proved that those who belong to other sects than their own are not only infidels (Kafir) but also Wajib ul Qatl (must be killed), and that their wedlock should be assumed as broken.

Mujahid Hussain in the daily Aajkal of June 21,2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Ahmadi massacre silence is dispiriting

The massacre of 94 members of minority Ahmadi community on May 28 has exposed something ugly at the heart of Pakistan – its laws, its rulers, its society.

Few visited the bereaved; still 4 days, the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, has not visited the bullet pocked mosques or offered compensation to the injured.

Declan Wash in the guardian.co.uk on 7 June 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Yom Takbir or Yom Takfir

The unfortunate people in Pakistan who were the first whose citizens’ rights were threatened in Pakistan, were Ahmadis. The slogan of the anti-Ahmadi Movement (in 1953) was apparently the Safeguarding the Khatme Nabuwwat, but its aims and objects were in fact quite different. I was then 16 years old, the same age as that of the terrorist who was apprehended on May 28. I participated actively in that agitation. I was arrested and was shifted from Jhang to Lyallpur, then to the Camp Jail in Lahore and was released after three months’ detention. By then the agitation had calmed down. I learnt to my surprise that the agitation was in fact a bid to grab political power. Political leadership in the Punjab had this way made an attempt to topple the central government.

Nazir Naji in the daily Jang of May 30, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    The mulla

The mulla’s interest in Pakistan and its neighbours has exceeded that of the state and its army. Call them Al-Qaeda, the Pushtun Taliban, sectarian organizations supported by regional powers, or Jihadists who seek territorial gains only through force, the mulla’s aim is to seek world domination through the occupation of the nuclear armed Pakistan.

Hameed Akhtar in the daily Express; Faisalabad, July 16, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Does Obama care about religious freedom?

With little fanfare, the (US) administration has quietly changed its religion rhetoric. Administration officials no longer speak of supporting ‘freedom of religion’. Instead, they now speak of ‘freedom of worship.’

Mard Tapscott in the Washington Examiner; July 12, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Ziaul Haq

Ziaul Haq is generally considered to have been the worst ruler ever in Pakistan.

Anwar Syed in the daily Dawn; Lahore, July 4, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Drive of obscurantism

Make no mistake, gentlemen, this is nothing but a creeping coup d’état by the forces of darkness, a coup that will spare no one including politicians of every hue, there is no right or left for these beasts, it is them against everyone else – an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is the goal.

Recall their takeover of Swat and areas of Hazara division until they were barely 50 miles from Islamabad, the capital of the Islamic Republic. Remember too their in your face arrogance when they went as far as to conduct a flag march on the motorway itself, from the Swabi to the Mardan interchanges. Wake up to reality, please, before this country is taken over by the obscurantist forces in conjunction with their cousins in Afghanistan.

Kamran Shafi in the daily Dawn; Lahore, July 6, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Are we an unjust people?

Pakistan as a nation must face that it stands in complicit silence and tacit agreement with all that brutalize its minorities. The greatest loss of self-respect is when one falls in one’s own estimation. Pakistanis hate each other, harbor fanatics, kill their brothers and condone murder. We deserve to be where we are today.

         Dr Mahjabeen Islam in Pakistan Link of June 18, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Religion and murders

Mufti Munibur Rehman, head of a federation of madrassahs, referred to Sura Maida, Verse 32 in his comment on the suicide bombing at Lahore’s Data Darbar. (“We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”)

But why did leading religious scholars not consider it appropriate to condemn the massacre of twice as many Ahmadis in the same term only a month earlier in a gun-and-grenade attack lasting four hours?

Kunwar Idrees in the Dawn; Lahore, July 11, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    The gods …

The gods must really hate us. There is no other explanation for the rough few days Pakistan and Pakistanis have suffered.

Floods, rains, plane crash, another indispensable in uniform, WikiLeaks, Americans wondering yet again whether we are friend or foe, Cameron suggesting we are foe after all – and all the while the usual tamasha continuing in the background, what with fake degrees still doing the rounds and judges still hung up over a system of appointment. Oh, and Karachi and Balochistan are in the throes of mysterious and not-so-mysterious violence.

What are Pakistanis to do?

                                                                   Cyril Almeida in the daily Dawn of July 30, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Pakistan’s human cockroaches

Truth is, there is only one way to get change, and it is not hanging the people who killed these boys (in Sialkot). It is raising your voice to contradict people who advocate death for others, no matter who they are speaking of. To internalize that murder of any kind, for anyone is wrong. Sounds easy? Well just try it.

Fasi Zaka in The Express Tribune; August 24, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    The meaning of August 11

Pakistan’s long list of mistakes carries one clear message: Jinnah had it right, to begin with. A stable and prosperous Pakistan can only be built through the development of a secular society and creation of a welfare state. Pakistan can become a great nation of the world as envisaged by Jinnah only by becoming Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Jamil Omar in The News of August 11, 2010

 

Op-ed:                         The people…

We have had horrible instances of relief being denied to Ahmadies in Punjab or Hindus being turned away from water coolers at relief camps in Sindh. Relief workers report instances where food has been doled out on the basis of clan, caste or political affiliation.

Kamila Hayat in the News of August 26, 2010

 

Op-ed:                        2012

I do not see an early end to this drive (of terrorism). The entire Urdu Bazaar (of Lahore) is stocked with books that promote violent mischief in the name of religion. Take a look at the book-shops of Urdu Bazaar and have a look at books that apparently deal with religion and preach Islam; in fact all these are dedicated to the task of mutilating the face of Islam. Not only that, listen occasionally to the eloquent speeches of Islamist clerics. If you are conversant with the real Islamic teachings, your blood will boil over the mischief mongering of these mullas – the authorities are well-aware of all this.

Ataul Haq Qasmi in the daily Jang of May 31, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Blair’s memoirs: a key observation

Extremism in Afghanistan: “We need a religious counter-attack, not just a political or military one.”

The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 2, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Flood – 2010

Not on recorded history has a flood of such magnitude swept through Pakistan. For the past month and a half, the waters have swept from the Swat Valley south to Indus delta and into the Arabian Sea destroying bridge, road, and 1.8 million houses. Some 20 million lives have been affected and 1,752 have died. The great Indus plain, home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, lies in ruins. More rains could unleash greater tragedy as people in temporary shelters are left exposed to the elements and disease. The U.N. Secretary General has rightly called this tragedy ‘a slow motion tsunami’.

The Newsweek Pakistan; Lahore, September 9, 2010

 

Op-ed:

Even though there is little that surprises people at this juncture, the report that no less than three million weapons have disappeared from official warehouses in Punjab is appalling.

                                    Editorial in the Dawn; Lahore, October 15, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    In memory of Dr Salam (the Nobel laureate)

Salam has certainly been honoured far more by countries other than his own and perhaps even disowned by his own country. He was eventually buried in Rabwah but the local magistrate had the tombstone defaced and got the word ‘Muslim’ erased from it. Even in his death, his faith was to be the basis of his maltreatment.

                        Shahid Saeed in the Daily Times of October 20, 2010

 

Op-ed:                        Is it Islamic or Islamist? The West’s confusion spells trouble.

The right on the other hand, often targets Islam while thinking that it is attacking Islamism. Banning the building of minarets, as Switzerland did, is exactly the wrong thing to do. The problem is not a mosque, the problem is a mosque used to promote violence, jihadism and illiberal Islam.

If western intellectuals do not get rid of this confusion now, we are headed down a dangerous path. Common people on the West will start to bundle all Muslims with islamists, picking a potentially losing battle with one quarter of humanity. This clash of civilization is what Al-Qaeda wanted to trigger with the attacks on September, 11. The West and its intellectuals should be smarter than Al-Qaeda.

                                    NEWSWEEK (http://newsweek.com/2010/10/22)  

 

Op-ed:                                    The Blasphemy law

The worldwide outrage caused by awarding of the death sentence to Aasia Bibi on a blasphemy charge was bound to happen sooner or later, in view of Pakistan’s inability to scrutinize a law that satisfies neither human rights advocates nor many authentic authorities on Islam. It is time this shortcoming was seriously addressed.

IA Rehman posted in the Dawn; November 25, 2010

 

Op-ed:                                    Ahmadiyyat (and Saudis)

In fact, the 1974 decision was most probably the outcome of Saudi pressure on Mr. Z.A. Bhutto. International press supports our theory. Encyclopedia of Asian History carries this entry:

Ahmadiyya: Founded by Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1839-1908) … At the urging of their Saudi financial partners, the Government of Pakistan declared them a ‘Religious Minority’ and revoked its previous classification of them as Muslims despite that Ahmadis remain some of Islam’s most effective missionaries, especially in Europe and East Africa.

Syed Naseer Shah in the monthly Nia Zamana, November 2010

 

Op-ed                          French Finding

(In Pakistan) The persecution of the Ahmadis continues even in death. ( with reference to burial problems)

France 24. Com/en/2010 1223 – 2010 – 12 – 23 – 2113 – reporters – persecution

 

Op-ed                             Saudi Arabia cash-point for terrorists: WikiLeaks

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-i-Taiba, but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirate.

Declan Walsh in the daily Dawn; December 6, 2010

 

2009

Op-ed:                                    It’s shocking …

The societal discrimination they (minorities) face deprives them of equality of opportunity which is a basic requirement for a democracy. Ahmadis are the worst victims of such discrimination and deprivation, mainly because they refuse to regard themselves as non-Muslims whereas the state and the society are unwilling to let them have any rights, let alone the freedom to practice their religion.

Mr. Iqbal Haider in the monthly Herald, August 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Terror assets

Pakistan became a frontline state in the war on terror, but the Pukhtun intelligentsia thinks and this conception is shared by many others as well – that its “assets” had to be guarded as well, and hence Swat was made “haven” for some of them.

It is a pity that government of the day, by relying on the crutches of religion, failed to anticipate the outcome of their flawed approach. Sectarianism was inevitable when obscurantists were appeased and given a free rein to preach violence. The need of the hour is that the government cracks down forcefully on banned religious groups before their violence spills into neighbouring states and others compel us to act.

The daily Dawn, Lahore; January 28, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Flogging of a young woman

The grainy footage of a 17-years old girl being publicly flogged in Swat has brought home for many the reality of the living hell that is today’s Pakistan…. The state has failed the people of Pakistan and stands guilty by association…. Some religious groups have condemned the incident, but the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami repeatedly evaded the issue in an interview with a television channel. He asked what is ‘so special’ about the girl’s flogging that it deserves so much hue and cry, conflating the incident with the completely unrelated issue of drone attacks.

The Editorial in the Dawn, Lahore; April 11, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Mujahid Khatme Nabuwwat – Zulfiquar Ali

You people are making me declare Qadianis a non-Muslim minority, but I thereby see the hangman’s noose around my neck – attributed to Mr. Bhutto in a feature article by  Mateen Khalid in the daily Pakistan, Lahore; April 04, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    The Taliban

The Taliban cannot defeat Pakistan militarily. The Taliban will win because what they want is already being implemented by Pakistan.

Op-ed in The Wall Street Journal; May 21, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Sleeper cells

… (The) parliamentarians demanded the elimination of ‘sleeper cells’ in other parts of the country, a reference to the former jihadi and current sectarian organizations in Punjab and Sindh provinces which have become integral part of the terrorist network.

                                                The Friday Times, Lahore; May 15, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    School texts                                       

School texts spreading more extremism than seminaries – Report in the Guardian.

This strategy lays the blueprint for a fascist state the professor (Dr Mubarak Ali) said adding: The logical conclusion of this line of thinking (that this state was built on the basis of religion) is a very narrow definition of who a real Pakistani and real Muslim is. Once minorities are out of the picture, they turn on other sects.

He (Mr Afnan Khan, the author of report) said the policies of General Zia were continued by those who followed him, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and General Pervez Musharraf.

The daily Dawn, Lahore; May 19, 2009

 

 

Op-ed:                                    Pakistan and its present crisis

… But no one bears more responsibility for a slow collective suicide than Pakistanis themselves. …

Says Rashid: “All of us go by conspiracy theories. We are all blaming somebody else for our mistakes. Why don’t we wake up and start blaming ourselves?”

“I no longer say that there is creeping Talibanisation in Pakistan,” he (Ahmed Rashid) warned. “It is a galloping Talibanisation.”

In the U.S. weekly Time; May 25, 2009

 

Oped:                          South Punjab and terrorism

What has come to the fore, however, more clearly than before is the reality of the involvement in terrorism of militias based in South Punjab…. South Punjab stretches from Jhang to Bahawalpur, dotted with madrassahs that private citizens from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait fund generously, thinking they are spreading the message of Islam.

                                                                                    The Daily Times, Lahore; June 19, 2009

 

Oped:                          In a letter to Sufi Muhammad… (from Dr Asrar)

…You are absolutely right in that the gravest Kufr (Un-Islam) and Shirk (polytheism) of the present age is the democracy of this era.

…The same is true for the state (Sultanat) of Pakistan. In principle and in constitution it is ‘Islamic’ but in practice it is Fasiq (sinful) and Fajir (fornicator, unchaste – Ferozsons).

….. If by the grace of Allah the Islamic Nizame Adl and the Sharia is imposed in Malakand in a special way, just like (the special status of) Tribal Areas in Pakistan or the status of Kashmir in the Indian Constitution, and by residing in full peace and harmony within Pakistan, its blessings will spread like the rays of the solar disc first in the NWFP, then in entire Pakistan and eventually in the whole world.

                                    Dr Asrar Ahmad: Nida-i-Khilafat; Lahore; June 8, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Not the business of the state

According to the original constitution as promulgated at noon on August 14, 1973 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, we were equal citizens of the state, with equal rights. But this equality was done away with in 1974 by Bhutto’s second amendment to his constitution bending to the obscurantists and bigots, and an entire community was shorn of its rights and declared a minority.

Ardeshir Cowasjee in the daily Dawn; Lahore, August 23, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Gojra accused

…But Gojra is a tragedy that calls for a zero-tolerance approach: the full extent of the law has to be applied to anyone who commited a crime of commission or omission. Let some of the suspects go punished and the message will be clear to violent bigots elsewhere; their crimes may also go unpunished. (sic)  Logically, then another Gojra could only by a matter of time.

Editorial in the Dawn; December 16, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Laws counter to religious harmony?

What does the Prime Minister want, after all!

The US and Europe have their own anti-Islam agenda. But what is the compulsion of our problem-ridden government that it is acting like puppet in the hands of the irreligious lobby through suggesting revision of the Blasphemy law in order to please a small minority, and the US and Europe.

They (the group in power) are the successors of Mr. Bhutto who secured salvation for himself by declaring the deniers of End of Prophethood as non-Muslims. The government should direct its ministers not make hurting statements that run counter to the sentiments of Muslims. The Christian Community, by opposing the PPC 295C should also not give the impression that it considers blasphemy as its right and is seeking restoration of that right through various excuses.

(Translation)Editorial in The daily Nawa-i-Waqt of August 8, 2009

 

Oped:                          Death of blasphemy accused

The latest death has burdened the conscience of Pakistan with one more collective crime. The state, forewarned, has instead relied on its old reflex of looking away and letting an innocent man die.

The Daily Times; Lahore, September 17, 2009

 

Op-ed:                                    Pak –Afghan destiny

The survival of Afghanistan and Pakistan is dependent on their cooperation with each other to eliminate militancy and extremism.

From review on book ‘Recovering the Frontier State…’ authored by Rasul Bakhsh Rais; in the Dawn supplement on September 06, 2009

 

2008

Op-ed:                                Pak TV channels –  from medium to tedium

If the anchor is bringing in ads and money he can actually cause people to be killed after declaring them defective in faith, and get away with it.

Khalid Ahmad in The Friday Times of November 7, 2008

Op-ed:                                              Zia-ul-Haq

One needs to point out that before Zia-ul-Haq, people refrained from wearing their Islam on their sleeve. Much changed with him and there are no signs of recovery or any lessening of the hypocrisy that passes for belief.

Khalid Hasan in The Friday Times of November 28, 2008

 

Oped:

Politics coupled with egotism and sectarian attitude is the evil genius that creates divisions among religions of the world. It is the task of any ideology – be it religious, liberal or secular – to create global understanding and respect. Islam has a very strong pluralistic element in its scriptures. Most of the world religions stress the importance of compassion, not just for your own people, but for every body. And that is the voice we need today, because any idealism that breeds discord, disdain, or contempt is failing the test of our times.

Karen Armstrong in interview with The News of February 3, 2008

 

Oped:                             Sharia laws vary among Muslims

(In Egypt) About a dozen other women convicted of adultery have also been freed on appeal.

In contrast to this traditional jurisdiction, modern, Muslim scholars such as Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan interpret sharia more broadly as “the expression of the universal principles of Islam and a way of thinking that helps express them in daily life.”

“This approach can accept secular laws as “sharia-compliant” if they reflect Islamic values. Even simply by trying to respect Muslim ethics one is already in the process of applying the sharia.”, Ramadan has written.

NYT reproduced in The daily Nation, Lahore; February 14, 2008

 

Op-ed                          The brutalizing laws

Who is to be blamed more for Pakistan’s descent from a peaceable to a brutalized polity –  the laws made by its assemblies or the bombers produced by its seminaries – remains a dilemma. What is not in doubt is that public opinion and the courts of law failed to play their part.

Kanwar Idrees in the daily Dawn; August 3, 2008

 

Op-ed

Taliban’s ferocity is unbelievable, and the facts and figures documented by Rashid are shocking. In 2006, the Taliban murdered 85 teachers and students and burned down 187 schools. Another 350 more schools were shut down because of the Taliban threat.

            Review by Siddiqui of Ahmed Rashid’s book ‘Descent into chaos’, in the Dawn of July 20, 2008.

 

Op-ed:                                        On equal citizenship of the state

The PPP claims to be a secular party – we are told that the forces of moderation have now taken charge of the nation. This being so, could the prime minister and his men not reconsider the ideology factor in the oath of office and make a move towards retreating to the stand made by the founder of this country and ensure that its citizens are indeed equal citizens of one state? That equality, much to be desired, has sadly been missing for too long.

By Ardshir Cowasjee in the daily Dawn of March 30, 2008

 

Op-ed                                             On Pakistan

It takes a big bomb to make a point in Pakistan these days.

The weekly Time, U.S.; October 06, 2008

Op-ed                                          Hobbling along

Our moth-eaten Pakistan will hobble along, led as it always has been since 1948 by men endowed with mediocrity or men endowed with moral depravation, until, God’s infinite grace, it rights itself and follows the path envisaged by its Founder-Maker, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The daily Dawn, Lahore; October 19, 2008

 

Op-ed                                          Killing for religion

Today, we have reached the stage where a young man Judgesh Kumar was charged with blasphemy and lynched to death, reportedly by a crowd of 1,500 people. His beating started within the factory where he worked, and continued in the outer guard room. As Iqbal Haider (co-chairperson of HRCP) stated in a recent TV talk show, the violence took place in the presence of about two dozen policemen, who did nothing to stop those who killed Jagdesh.

Hilda Saeed in the Dawn, May8, 2008

 

Op-ed                                         Where to go next?

… After all what is wrong with us that no people trust us as a people? Our words do not show on our face, for face portrays a person, a people. Our emotions and feelings, why do these not let us move toward friendship? Neighbors have precedence for one’s friendship, but here it is substituted by animosity. Shall we never see peace in the Sub-continent? Will this perfume get lost as a dream? After all, where lies the wrong? Why this backwardness, this decline, this conflict? Are we short of intelligent people? Is this land of ours barren? Are the winds passing overhead unkind? Are we destined to remain in this whirl? Has the night come to stay? More than half a century has passed; we saw and heard a great deal, but what have we learnt?

Asad Mufti in Soch Aproach; the daily Aajkal; Lahore, June 2, 2008

 

Op-ed

The way we treated our sole Nobel prize winner scientist Dr. Abdus Salam was shameful (sharamnak) indeed.

Shahid Nadeem in the daily Aajkal of May 31, 2008

 

Op-ed

Another boy has been sentenced to death and fine for blasphemy by a sessions court in Sialkot…

The judge is not to blame. He could have been killed if he had freed the accused. This is justice through intimidation, and intimidation works right up to the High Court. The youth thus condemned will now rot on death row and become useless for his country, if not dangerous. According to pattern, he will be found innocent after seven or eight years by the Supreme Court. No blasphemer has been executed so far. But innocent people who go through the ordeal are hardly able to find normal footing in life again.

The Daily Times, Lahore; June 21, 2008

 

Op-ed                               A Federal Minister’s letter to the Dawn

I should like to congratulate you on your editorial once again and draw the attention of all concerned to the dire plight of the minorities in violent disregard of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s declaration of Aug 11, 1947.

Raja Tridiv Roy in the Dawn of June 1, 2008

 

Op-ed:

Yet though Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism, it has also been its enabler.

TIME, (US); September 22, 2008

 

Op-ed                                     In deep trouble

Lastly, friend Irfan Husain, again writing eminent sense, reminded us of the damage that a free and independent media can do if it is allowed to do so by those who operate channels and by a government that sits idly by and observes without comment or action. An unstable participant, a doctor of sorts, in one of the endless talk shows incited the public to murder those of the Ahmadi faith, all in the name of the religion which guides this country. And subsequent murders there were. Such is the national mindset.

Ardeshir Cowasjee in the daily DAWN of September 28, 2008

Op-ed                                 Threat to the state

The president must not appear as someone who cannot deliver on his promises. We need a strong leadership at this time to direct the state and society.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa in the Dawn of September 26, 2008

 

Op-ed:                                    Bombing a hospital

Such is their fanaticism that the Taliban would not spare even hospitals. The result of Tuesday’s suicide bombing at the District Headquarters Hospital left a minimum of 32 people dead and 55 injured. The blast took place at a time when people had gathered to protest against the murder of local Shia leader, Basit Ali, …

The daily Dawn, Lahore; August 21, 2008

 

Op-ed:                                    Measuring the Jamaat’s descent

… Pakistanis have come to expect nothing less from the Jamaat-e-Islami – predictable, boring, jingoist and anchored neither in religion, nor in science.

Mosharraf Zaidi in      the daily News, Lahore; August 19, 2008

 

Op-ed:                                    Now, or perhaps never

Because the so-called religious political parties, averse to the cause of Pakistan before 1947, derive their strength from these bigots, these parties refuse to condemn what is obviously and outright un-Islamic. Every time there is discussion on terrorism their favorite refrain is the cause of such terrorism. Its consequences are either lost on them, or are irrelevant to their politics.

Religion is unfortunately becoming the propriety domain of those who espouse a particular physical appearance. Without regard to any intellectual content they are willing to impose a particular social conduct upon the people, at the point of pain, in a perverted display of irreligious thuggery in the name of religion.

Javed Hassan Aly in the daily Dawn, Lahore; August 29, 2008

 

Oped

The Frontier government’s draft regulation for a switch over to the system of Quasi-religious courts in Swat, Dir and Chitral districts amounts to playing with fire. Planned apparently to appease militancy in the area it is likely to make the militants there stronger and facilitate their rise in other parts of the province and in the rest of Pakistan

……….                                            I.A. Rehman in the Dawn of January 23, 2008

 

Oped

Mullas are still against Quaid-e-Azam

In daily Express famous columnist Haroon ur Rashid wrote that the mullahs tried to convince me that Quaid-e-Azam was a British agent. Maulvis call him corrupt because they are blind in their prejudice. According to Imam Muslim ahle khair (pious) often speak lies. They are self-righteous, unbending, stubborn and frogs of a well.

‘Nuggets from the urdu press’ in The Friday Times, February 1-7, 2008

 

2007

Op-ed:                        Lashkar e Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam

Two sects, proclaiming different beliefs have formed armed groups (in Khyber Agency) named Lashkar Islam and Ansarul Islam, who use heavy arms against each other. As a result, hundreds have been killed till now and approximately one thousand injured, while thousands had to migrate. Lashkar e Islam are Brelvis, while Ansarul Islam are Deobandis.

The daily Ausaf, Lahore; March 22, 2007

 

Op-ed

If conciliating the militants and criminals becomes public policy it will not remain confined to the clerics and the Hafsa women, nor would Chaudhry Shujaat be the last politician to run the conciliation shuttle. The country is once again headed for the politics of brimstone and gunfire.

Kunwar Idrees in the daily Dawn, Lahore; April 15, 2007

 

Op-ed

“Let me introduce you to another group (of the IJT, Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of the J.I.). This group, infused with piety and eager to taste martyrdom proceeded forth to protect the tormented Muslims of Afghanistan and Kashmir from the blood-soaked excesses of infidels. It was a group of eagles that shed its own blood (to that end). Each one of them struck the infidels like a bolt from the blue, and having hit them with unbearable strike joined the group of martyrs.

Now I ask each and every member of our society that if the Jamiat was not there, was this at all possible?”

Waqar Ahmad’s article “Jamiat and Pakistan”, in the daily Waqt, Lahore; December 24, 2007

 

Op-ed

If the terrorists of today are out to kill all those – women and children included – who do not subscribe to their skewed understanding of Islam, we are nothing but reaping the blood soaked harvest of hatred and intolerance sowed, and so very carefully tended to, over the past half century.

Ghani Jafar in ‘Reclaiming Pakistan’ in the daily The News of September 22, 2007

 

Op-ed

The abuse of religious laws enacted by General Ziaul Haq is so rampant and painful that it can be checked only by independent, unbiased judicial intervention. Our judiciary must act, where the government for political reasons does not, to enforce the fundamental rights of the minority religious and ethnic groups.

It is much better to have a functioning anarchy rather than a bristling extremist polity kept on a leash by the military.

Kunwar Idrees in the daily Dawn of February 18, 2007

 

Op-ed

Khalid Hasan while reviewing a book Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army And The Wars Within (Oxford University Press) in The Friday Times wrote:

He has been fortunate in gaining access to some of the in-house assessments of those wars. I also recall his once telling me that he had been able to read the unpublished manuscript of one of the true, though largely unsung, heroes of the 1965 war: the man who saved Sialkot, the late Lt General Akhtar Hussain Malik’s younger brother.

I remember General Abdul Ali Malik telling me a couple of years before his death that he had all but completed the book, but was only waiting to get some maps and data from the General Headquarters (GHQ). I wonder if he ever got that. If there ever was a gentleman and a soldier in deed and spirit, anyone who knew General Malik would place that crown without hesitation on his head.

 

Op-ed

…. A few political parties have formed their own ‘Scoundrels (Badmuash) Wing’, though they name them differently.

Hameed Akhtar in the daily Express, Faisalabad; January 27, 2007

 

Op-ed

…. Our green passport with its religious column the only country in this wide world, Muslim or otherwise, to have such a column, will put us in the harassment line at every airport.

Letter to editor, the daily Dawn, Lahore; January 10, 2007

 

Op-ed

In his article titled Afghanistan: the fall out, M.Asghar Khan wrote:

“(T)he Saudi involvement and the readiness of our rulers to allow Saudi Arabia to provide not only religious but also political guidance has been another factor in our slide towards instability and chaos.”

The Friday Times, Lahore; October 26, 2007

 

Op-ed

First we need less state religious ideology, not more to make our multi-national state more temporal, peaceable and viable. …To do this, however, we must rewrite history, revise the core education curricula, educate the media and cleanse the constitution of all manifestations of any singular religious destiny.

Editorial, The Friday Times, Lahore; August 17, 2007

 

Op-ed

And the classic (Ahmad) Faraz story occurred when he was asked what difference there is between Pakistan as it was at birth and as it is today. “When Pakistan came into being, the president of Muslim League was a man named Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Today it is Chaudhry Gujrat Hussain”.

Khalid Hasan’s article on poet Ahmad Faraz in the The Friday Times of 22.6.2007

 

Op-ed

The government till recently looked united over the stratagem adopted by President Pervez Musharraf about keeping Dr (A.Q.) Khan under wraps. He told the world that the scientist was a thief but at home he was a national hero and that Pakistan was therefore not willing to expose him to questioning. But the PML, whether “N” or “Q” nurses indiscreet passion for the man that may not suit Pakistan as a state trying to rehabilitate itself after a stormy phase of Jihad and global terrorism.

Editorial in the Daily Times, June 30, 2007

 

Op-ed

The poison crop that he (General Zia) sowed is now blooming. According to the author (Ilhan Niaz), “General Zia’s eleven years in power witnessed the Pakistan State undertake a deliberate policy of medievalism”.

Critique of Niaz’s book, “An Enquiry into the Culture of Power of the Subcontinent”, by Khalid Hasan in The Friday Times of April 27, 2007

 

Op-ed

Hand to them (Red Mosque duo of clerics) though for turning out to be superb comic actors. Wowing martyrdom and suicide bombings and God knows what, their rhetoric and threat were effective that it was generally believed that short of a pitched battle they would not be evicted from their mosque and seminary (transformed over the last couple of years into a fortress, under the benign eyes of the Musharraf administration [sic]).

Ayaz Amir in the daily Dawn, Lahore; July 06, 2007

 

Op-ed

Last week in a stunning show of strength, militants abducted 410 officers and solders of the security forces in the Wazirastans.

From the article ‘Jihadis strike back in Pakistan’ by Syed Saleem Shahzad in the daily Post, Lahore; September 06, 2007

 

Op-ed

We people and our rulers are incapable of bearing the burden of knowledge. We are the unfortunate people whose teachers and professors see no need of research, and if urged to undertake it see no impropriety in publishing others’ findings in their own name. On discovery when they are held accountable for this theft, students who belong to a party that uses religion to serve its politics start agitating in support of these professors.

Hameed Akhtar in the Daily Express of June 7, 2007

 

Op-ed:

Last month a RAND Corp report advised the US government to build networks with true moderates in the Muslim world. Drawing on American tactics from the cold war era, the report suggests ways to promote the moderate Muslims and marginalize the extremists in the Muslim lands.

‘Seeking moderate Muslims’ in The News; April 18, 2007

 

Op-ed

One such group comprising Al Qaeda and Taliban elements has called Pakistan “Darul Harab” (Home of War) and decided to launch jihad against President Pervez Musharraf.

Iqbal Khattak in The Friday Times, Lahore; July 27, 2007

 

Op-ed                     Musharraf and PML(Q)

The Chaudhrys are not only close to the army’s traditional posture towards India, they are  also joined at the hip with the religious parties. Musharraf’s liberal agenda has often been scuttled by the Chaudhrys and the PML parliamentarians who can’t change their spots.

In 2005 MPLQ and MMA jointly killed a bill seeking to make ‘honour-killing’ non-compoundable. (You can’t reach a ‘settlement’ with the victim’s family.) Both parties opposed the bill.

The PPP of Ms Bhutto in parliament demanded abrogation of the Hudood Ordinance by The Protection and Empowerment of Women Act 2003. Party leader Chaudhry Shujaat placated the MMA by assuring his party won’t vote for it.

The MMA put forward 10 demands; Chaudhry Shujaat made it known that he favoured them. Then in 2004 came another turning point in the politics surrounding the anti-women Hudood Laws. PMLQ vowed not to change the laws.

In 2004, Pakistan agreed with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to issue machine-readable passports. Conforming to ICAO standards, the passport authorities introduced the new passport without any reference to the holder’s religious affiliation. The PMLO cabinet in 2005 decided to put the religion column back in the passport.

The PMLQ was literally arm-twisted by Musharraf to pass a much watered down amendment to Hudood Laws. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was offended that the amendment had offended the MMA. The argument is always: the party will lose votes by taking a liberal line.

The MPLQ has ruled Punjab well and is therefore important for Musharraf. But the temperament of the Chaudhrys is not national and they simply don’t have the ability to communicate to the outside world. They do passively what the MMA wants to do aggressively: challenge the world.

The Friday Times, March 30 – April 5, 2007

 

2006

Op-ed:

‘Enlightened moderation’ is no more than a pair of words flung at us every day, but we see little evidence of it on the ground.

Khalid Hasan in The Friday Times of January 13-19, 2006

 

Op-ed:             Our increasingly Deobandi, mullah-infested land (Pakistan)…

Khalid Hasan of TFT

The Friday Times, Lahore; June 9, 2006

 

Oped:

“Meanwhile the Ahmadi community is under daily pressure and anyone with a twisted mind is free to persecute them…”

Editorial, the Daily Times, November 22, 2006

 

Op-ed:           

(After Bhutto) the country fell in the lap of a rabidly religious General Ziaul Haq who changed the entire ideological complexion of Pakistan from a modern liberal state to a theocratic one to be run by an all powerful ‘amirul momineen’ (that is, himself) with the advice and consent of the same Ulema who had opposed the creation of Pakistan as conceived by the Quaid-e-Azam.

The religious political parties, which due to their treacherous role in the past had always been rejected by the people of Pakistan, ganged up around general Ziaul Haq and became his bastion of power.

Burhanuddin Hasan in The News international, July 27, 2006: Improving Pakistan’s Image

 

Op-ed:                      The riddle of the life of Christ  (by Khaled Ahmed)

… …

Christianity had a better innings with Islam because both have to have faith in Christ, and Islam reveres Christ because he is the harbinger of Muhammad (pbuh). But the devil remains in the details. Where Muslims rule, Christians walk in danger, unless the world can scare the Muslim state into behaving differently. Pakistan is savage to its Christians under the Blasphemy Law. If it weren’t for world opinion, we would have given ourselves a law that can kill all of them collectively on the basis of the fact that the Old Testament blasphemes against the prophets David, Solomon, Noah, etc. One only shudders at the possibilities contained in Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law. Under clerical rule, the Federal Shariat Court would have to offer the Christians the choice of conversion, just like the Romans, or they would face death on the basis of contents of the Bible.

(The Friday Times July 7-13, 2006)

 

Op-ed:

He (Ahmad Bashir) is the only intellectual who took the mullahdom of Pakistan head on. He was not afraid of exposing the hypocrisy, ignorance, intolerance and bloody mindedness of these men, who like a swarm of locust have descended upon a country whose establishment they had opposed and whose creator they had denounced as the Great Infidel….

The great iconoclast (Ahmad Bashir) is now dead and there is no one big or brave or mad enough to step into his shoes. The mullahs are running rampant and pushing us closer by the hour towards the precipice.

Khalid Hasan’s Private View column in The Friday Times of September 8, 2006

 

Op-ed:

Prof Ashfaq Ali Khan once said that (President) Ayub was an unfortunate man. “History tries to lead him by the hand to greatness and every time he wrests his hand free”. So, here is Gen Pervez Musharraf’s chance to redeem himself. He should visit (Ahmadi) Dr Salaam’s grave on his 10th anniversary year and lay a wreath on it on behalf of the people of Pakistan. He should also scrap the revolting regulation that changed Rabwah’s name to Chenab Nagar. And one day, I hope, the despicable (anti-Ahmadi constitutional amendment) 1974 law that has thrown Pakistan into the witches’ cauldron of sectarianism will be annulled.

Khalid Hasan in the Daily Times of November 26, 2006

 

Op-ed:

… Meanwhile, the Ahmadi community is under daily pressure and anyone with a twisted mind is free to persecute them.

Editorial in the Daily Times of November 22, 2006

 

Op-ed:

… Over the years our judiciary has become mentally soft on the clergy. Indeed, it would not be far wrong to say that in some cases our judges in lower courts have assumed without any legal grounds that they are equal to the classical identity of a mufti appointed by a Muslim sultan.

The Daily Times, Lahore; December 16, 2006

 

2005

Op-ed:

We should have got rid of this baggage (of Islamisation) long ago. We are still carrying it. Musharraf had a chance to turn a new page but he’s largely blown it, his rhetoric more impressive than anything he may have done.

Ayaz Amir in his article Existence and Anguish, the Daily Dawn, August 19th, 2005

 

Op-ed:

General Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” has to be translated into actions that speak louder than words which alone will impress no one.

Khalid Hasan in the Friday Times, Lahore of January 7-13, 2005

 

Op-ed:

All we have to do is agree upon a single item agenda, do away, expunge from the law books, all of Zia’s decrees and ordinances.

Ayaz Amir (columnist) in the daily Dawn of January 28, 2005

 

Op-ed:

Govt’s unspoken policy to prevent Ahmadis from leaving Pakistan

Title of an article in the weekly, The Friday Times, Lahore; April 15-21, 2005

 

Op-ed:

The Ulama come to power only through Martial Laws and military rulers. General Zia’s regime is a case in point. In his days, politico-religious parties were promoted. The so-called religious laws promulgated in his days were not based on Islam, but on hypocrisy. Dr. Javed Iqbal

The Khabrian, Lahore; February 5, 2005

 

Op-ed:

Restoring the republic’s mental equilibrium will remain incomplete if general Zia-ul Haq’s religious laws – all products of expediency-the changes he brought about in penal code and the Constitution, were not repealed altogether and in one ago. The great dictator brought darkness to this land, if we are to switch on the lights, we must undo his legacy. Or our brave talk will be just that – words floating in a void.

Mr. Ayaz Amir in the Dawn of July 29, 2005

 

Op-ed:

One would rather be a Jew or a Christian in Pakistan than a member of the heretic Ahmadi sect, which is assiduously persecuted.

The Atlantic Monthly; April 2003; Holy Writ; Vol. 291, No. 3

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