Friday, May 28, 2010

Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance

Today's terrorist assault and the resulting tragic loss of life of scores of Pakistani citizens of Ahmedi sect in Lahore warrant the strongest condemnation by all. Pakistan's government and all the right thinking people must now act to stop the repeat of such tragedies by all means necessary, including the use of the national media to educate people, eliciting strong condemnation statements by those who claim to be Islamic religious scholars, enforcing blanket ban on hate speech, and using appropriate force.

I am reproducing here a post I wrote in 2008 to exhort action to stop agents of intolerance everywhere:

Sadly, the news of intolerance, abuse and hate crimes, continue to pour out of various parts of South Asia and the Muslim world. Unfortunately, the threats are issued and crimes committed in the name of religion or tradition or ethnicity. What gets reported is probably only the tip of the iceberg, but here's a sampling of what has caught my attention recently:

Pakistani TV Host Calls for Ahmadis' Murder:

According to Asia Human Rights Commission, the host of the religious talk show 'Alim Online', Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain--also former federal minister for religious affairs--declared the murder of Ahmadis, members of a minority sect excommunicated by fundamentalist Islam, to be obligatory (Wajib ul Qatal) according to Islamic teachings, because its followers don't believe in the last prophet, Mohammad. Dr. Hussain repeated his instruction several times, urging Muslim listeners to "kill without fear".

While on air the host also pressed two other Islamic "scholars" (from two different sects) on the program to support the statement. This resulted in a unanimous agreement among the "scholars", on air during the popular television show, to urge lynching of Ahamdis. This was not the first time Mr. Hussain has done this. On September 9, Mr. Hussain answered a query with the comment that blasphemers are liable to be put to death.

According to media reports, at 1:15pm on September 8, 18 hours after the broadcast, six people entered the Fazle Umer Clinic, a two-story hospital at Mirpur Khas city and two of them went to the second floor and asked 45 year-old Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui to come downstairs to attend to a patient in crisis. Dr. Manan left his office and descended into an ambush. He was shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard was also shot and is in a serious condition. A woman was also injured by firing. The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building's front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown.


Top Saudi Judge on Satellite TV operators:

According to media reports, Saudi Arabia’s top judiciary official has issued a religious decree saying it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV networks that broadcast "immoral" content.

The 79-year-old Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan said Thursday that satellite channels cause the “deviance of thousands of people.” ...

Al-Lihedan was answering listeners’ questions during the daily “Light in the Path” radio program in which he and others make rulings on what is permissible under Islamic law. One caller asked about Islam’s view of the owners of satellite TV channels that show “bad programs” during Ramadan.

“I want to advise the owners of these channels, who broadcast calls for such indecency and impudence ... and I warn them of the consequences,” he said.

“What does the owner of these networks think, when he provides seduction, obscenity and vulgarity?” he said.

“Those calling for corrupt beliefs, certainly it’s permissible to kill them,” he said. “Those calling for sedition, those who are able to prevent it but don’t, it is permissible to kill them.”



On September 9, 48 hours after the broadcast, Mr. Yousuf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to prayer in Nawab Shah, Sindh province. Yousuf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested.

Thackeray Threatens Bollywood's Bachchan Family:

A star-studded premiere for Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's new film, The Last Lear, has been scrapped in Mumbai, India, because of security concerns for guests, after the Shiv Sena chief made threats against the Bachchan family. Mr. Bal Thackeray has vowed not to allow any film starring any member of the Bachchan family from being released in the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital, according to media reports. Mr. Thackeray has rejected repeated apologies from Mr. and Mrs. Bachan over their reported remarks denigrating Marathi language.

So who is Bal Thackeray and why is he so feared? According to a Wikipedia entry, Bal Keshav Thackeray (born January 23, 1926), popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray, is the founder and chief of the Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist, Marathi ethnocentric and populist party active mainly in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He is also referred to as Hindu Hridaysamrat (lit. "Ruler of Hindu hearts") and Sher (Tiger) by members of the Shiv Sena.

Thackeray is very vocal in his opposition to people who migrate to Mumbai, to non-Hindus (especially Muslims), and to Bengali Muslims he believes are Bangladeshis. In the late 1970s, as part of his "Maharashtra is for Maharashtrians" campaign, Thackeray threatened migrants from South India with harm unless they left Mumbai.

Women Buried Alive in Baluchistan:

Baba Kot, a village 50 miles from Usta Mohammad town of Jafferabad district in Baluchistan, is where this recent tale of tribal terror began.
The media reports and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) indicate that it was here that Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani, a brother of Mr. Sadiq Umrani, a Baluchi tribal leader and a serving PPP provincial minister, came with more than six men and abducted five women at gun point. They were transported in a government vehicle to another remote area, Nau Abadi, near Baba Kot. Upon reaching Nau Abadi, Abdul Sattar Umrani and his men took the three younger women out of the jeep and beat them before opening fire with their guns. The girls were seriously injured but were still alive after the shooting. Sattar Umrani and his men pushed them into a wide ditch and covered them up with dirt and stones. When the two older women protested and tried to stop the burial, the attackers also pushed them into the ditch and buried them alive. After completing the burial, they fired several shots into to the air so that no one would come close and left the scene.

According to media reports, the five female victims were Fatima, wife of Umeed Ali Umrani, Jannat Bibi, wife of Qaiser Khan, Fauzia, daughter of Ata Mohammad Umrani, and two other girls, aged between 16 to 18 years, whose names have not been published. At the moment they were abducted, the women were preparing to leave for a civil court at Usta Mohammad, district Jafarabad, so that three of the girls could marry the men of their choice. Their decision to go to to court for a civil marriage was contrary to the wishes of the elders of the tribe.

The live female burials took place a month ago but the police have neither registered a crime report nor taken any action. There have been no arrests yet. Minister and tribal chief Sadiq Umrani confirmed the incident took place but insisted that only three women had been killed by unknown people.

India 's Guantanamos and AbuGhraibs:

An essay on TwoCircles.net by Yoginder Sikand describes the deteriorating human rights situation of Indian Muslims. America's 'global war on terror' has provided a convenient cover to the Hindutva lobby and to fiercely anti-Muslim elements within the Indian state machinery to launch a concerted campaign of terror against Muslims. Large numbers of Muslims in various parts of India continue to languish in jails on trumped-up terror charges, suffering brutal torture as well as routine insults to their religion by police officials. Meanwhile, Hindu terrorists, often in league with the police and the state machinery, are allowed to run riot, unleashing violence and bloodshed on a frightening scale, while the state, the police and the courts take no firm action against them. Bomb blasts that are now occurring with frightening frequency, whose perpetrators remain unknown, are automatically blamed on Muslims, while some of these might possibly be engineered by Hindutva outfits or by elements within the state apparatus, or even by foreign intelligence agencies like the CIA or the Israeli Mossad who have a vested interest in demonizing Muslims and thereby driving India closer into the deadly American-Israeli embrace. That, in brief, was what numerous social activists as well as dozens of Muslim victims of police and state terror testified to at a public hearing on brutalities against Muslims in the name of countering 'terrorism' recently organized in Hyderabad by a group of noted human rights' activists. Going by their depositions and the verdict of the jury of eminent social activists, journalists and retired judges, it appears that powerful elements within the state apparatus are deeply implicated, along with Hindu terrorist groups, in a witch-hunt of India's Muslim citizens.

Aafia Siddiqui 11-year old son in detention:

According to media reports and Human Rights Watch, Ahmed Siddiqui, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's 11-year-old son, is being held under inhumane conditions by the Afghan authorities. While considerable doubts remain about the US and Afghan accounts of Dr. Siddiqui's arrest in Ghazni, most human rights activists see no justification for holding her son in custody.

Call For Action:

How can we, as individuals, fight this scourge of rising intolerance, abuse and hate crimes? In addition to supporting organizations that fight for human rights such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Commission, etc, each of us should raise our voice against it through whatever platform is available to us. We can blog about it, write to newspaper editors, join the call-in shows and sign petitions to officials. Whatever it takes, it is important that we speak up for the basic rights of our fellow human beings everywhere in the world.


Related Links:

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Religious Leaders Respond to Domestic Violence

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

51 comments:

aamsvad said...

It was pretty sad that it happened in Lahore.
But i was wondering
When this issue goes to court how will the victims defend them selves legally? Will they be allowed to swear on Quarn and say that they will speak only truth?

Accepted as south asians we and our society needs to go miles before we learn to treat every citizen as a human (like in west),BUT A CONSTITUTION if it treats some humans as sub-humans it is crazy.
This "Ahmadi-NOT a muslim" issue is legally insane and grossly inhuman.
Why don't Pak declare that Ahmadis are humans in the sense that they can practice their religion as per their choice?
that is the least Pak can do to the victims.

Data Cruncher said...

nice blog. Look at the scanned image of Pakistan passport.

http://changinguppakistan.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/targeting-the-ahmadis/

Riaz Haq said...

DC:

Islam ordains full protection and security of minorities under Islamic rule.

For the practicing Muslims who consider Ahmedis a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan, it is an obligation under the Islamic law to protect all minorities, including Ahmedis.

Islam also forbids taking of innocent lives, particularly those who are engaged in peaceful worship.

Anonymous said...

islam declares Mr Mohammad to be the last prophet.
Ahmediyas claim to be muslim but deny the finality of Mohammed as the last prophet.

So this technically makes them blasphemers and Pakistani CONSTITUTION has very harsh provisions against any criticism against Islam.

Your views please...

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Your views please..."

The constitution of Pakistan does not consider denial of Muhammad's prophethood as blasphemy. It declares Ahmedis a non-Muslim minority, and gives their life and property protection and security afforded to all religious minorities in Pakistan.

anoop said...

"The constitution of Pakistan does not consider denial of Muhammad's prophethood as blasphemy. It declares Ahmedis a non-Muslim minority, and gives their life and property protection and security afforded to all religious minorities in Pakistan."

Riaz, I cant believe you are defending that bigoted piece of paper called The Pakistani Constitution. Its time,dont you think, to face the facts? The clean of Pakistan should be from the top up. That is from its constitution.

Religious references should be removed,else the mullah's will always come into the picture. I bet the Pakistani govt doesn't even touch the part about Ahmediyas being non-Muslims or the Hudood ordinance or Blasphemy laws.

Do you really think these kinds of laws deserve a place in a modern state?

The sad fact here is, in Pakistan these awful laws are here to stay. Nobody dare touch them. Or, all hell will break loose.

Pakistan should also examine adopting a constitution like that of India. It would be easier for everyone if they just press ctrl+c and ctrl+v from the Indian constitution.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Pakistan should also examine adopting a constitution like that of India."

Secular democracy is a myth. It has not worked in India. It will not work in Pakistan. Religion is deeply ingrained in both societies.

Here's how Kapil Komireddy demolishes the myth of Indian secularism in a piece he wrote for the Guardian newspaper:

For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.

The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.

The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognise and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.


The key is to offer security and protection to all citizens regardless of faith, ethnicity etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's more on the failure of Indian secularism according to Kapil Komireddy:

Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984).

Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, explained away the riots by quoting Newton's third law. "Every action," he said on television, "has an equal opposite reaction." The "action" that invited the reaction of the mobs was the torching of a Gujarat-bound train in which 59 Hindus pilgrims, most of them saffron-clad bigots who were returning home from a trip to the site of the Babri Mosque that they had helped demolish a decade earlier, perished. The "equal and opposite reaction" was the slaughter of 1,000 innocent Muslims for the alleged crime of their coreligionists.

Such an event, had it occurred anywhere else, would have destroyed that country's reputation. But, astonishingly, the years since 2002 have witnessed a steady stream of books, mostly by western authors, extolling India. The unwillingness on western intellectuals' part to engage honestly with the violent reality of India, or offer a sincere portrayal of its transformation, has much to do with their own assumptions of history and modernity; but glossing over India's treatment of its Muslims – or omitting it substantially from their analyses – must have at least something to do with the insidious apathy towards Muslim tribulations that has characterised western attitudes since 9/11.

The rise of Hindu chauvinism in India has a complex history, but the absence of any meaningful sanction from the rest of the world has certainty emboldened Hindu bigots. Last week, Varun Gandhi, the Hindu-chauvinist BJP's London-educated parliamentary candidate from the Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state, made remarks of a kind that even European neo-Nazi leaders would hesitate to make in public.

Anonymous said...

riaz

India has a law and it is failing. where as pakistan does have a law and it is failing. First step is to have a law in place and anoop was just suggesting copying from india. probably you can copy the same from uk as india has copied for uk and nothing new.

Data Cruncher said...

riaz, your obsession to prove that Pakistan is same as India is becoming a joke. I have asked this many times before and asking again. Show one case of a muslim leaving islam and converting to other religion and living happily in Pakistan. In India A R Rahman is the best example. There must be something in India that allows Dilip Sekhar to become A R Rahman and yet have an enormous successful career.

My wife (Shia) is from India and she feels there is no comparison between India and pakistan. In Pakistan TV programs we have people like Dr. Israr Ahmed openly asking for genocide of all Ahmediyas.
As Nadeem F Paracha told NYT "denial has become our second nature" and you prove it to the hilt.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "My wife (Shia) is from India and she feels there is no comparison between India and pakistan. In Pakistan TV programs we have people like Dr. Israr Ahmed openly asking for genocide of all Ahmediyas"

Your wife is right. There is no comparison between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan is in the midst of a war. Last year, about 3000 Pakistanis died of terrorist violence in the entire year.

In India, 7000 people a day die of hunger, including 3000 children every day.

No one should be allowed to preach violence against any one on TV or anywhere else. But let's not forget that people like Narendra Modi have real power of the state to kill thousands of Muslims in state organized pogroms in India.

Here is Paul Brass, a US scholar and researcher, talking about regular pogroms and production of violence and terror against Indian minorities:

Events labeled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and towns in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/ rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation.1 In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally.

Pakistan has seen sporadic sectarian violence from time to time. And it has claimed hundreds of lives.

Unlike India, there is no history of organized, state-sponsored pogroms (1984 against Delhi Sikhs, 2002 against Gujarat Muslims) against minorities in Pakistan. What happened in East Pakistan was a civil war inspired by RAW and its agents, and there were unscrupulous killers on all sides, including Pakistan military officers who committed atrocities. Large numbers of non-Bengali civilians and military personnel were also slaughtered by Indian-sponsored Mukti Bahini, as reported in Jessore massacre by Sarmila Bose in India's Telegraph newspaper when the pictures of the dead were mislabeled and misused as false propaganda against the Pakistani military.

Data Cruncher said...

Riaz,

So when it suits you Population of India is not a factor. How many India has killed its minorities compared to Pakistan. In fact Pak has killed more muslims than India has.
For one Narendra Modi we have Yaha Khan whose deeds == 10000 Modi in killings.

Make no mistakes. Yesterday's killings IS state sponsored. How can state allow Dr. Israr Ahemd to say on a public TV that Qadianis should be killed en-masse because they are murtads. The same state which bans facebook. LOL.

Also why don't you compare Pakistan with India when it comes to education or economy. Why is that Pakistanis have to lie in USA by calling themselves as Indians in order to escape discrimination and not the other way.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "For one Narendra Modi we have Yaha Khan whose deeds == 10000 Modi in killings."

There is no excuse for the atrocities by Pak military in East Pakistan in 1972, but it was a civil war inspired, organized and funded by India as recently acknowledged by Sheikh Haeena. And the India-funded Bengali nationalists of Mukti Bahini killed a lot of people and blamed it on Pak military, as explained by Bose in Calcutta's Telegraph newspaper.

DC: "Make no mistakes. Yesterday's killings IS state sponsored. How can state allow Dr. Israr Ahemd to say on a public TV that Qadianis should be killed en-masse because they are murtads. The same state which bans facebook. LOL."

This is just nonsense. Israr Ahmed is no longer on TV. He has been dead for a while now.

anoop said...

Riaz,

You quote Kapil Komireddy. Good. You should read more of his posts. Probably you will stop quoting him after that.

The function of a Constitution is to define the Principles upon which the laws must be framed and acts as a guidance system on how the state should run. Unfortunately, Pakistani Constitution has ventured into areas that no human has been able to grasp till date - God/Religion.

The Constitution is trashed with references to a particular Religion. It even goes on to define who is a muslim and who is not. Pakistani passport applications even have that shameful declaration(Check the link Data Cruncher provides).

India has share its problems. I completely agree. If you have a 1 Billion population and Freedom of Speech some things tend to happen. But, a average Muslim in India has a better chance of success and to get a quality life than any in Pakistan. Uneducated Muslims work hard for their meals in India, but in Pakistan they tend to become Terrorists(Although the case of Faisal Shehzad proves that this rot is set deep into the Pakistan elite also).

As someone pointed out ,the level of tolerance in Pakistan is so low that anyone even converting out of Islam is killed by the mob. Whereas on the Indian side A.R.Rahman is loved and celebrated. Fanatic Hindus,that you claim are in large numbers, haven't even noticed him. His achievements are treated as India's achievements. Compare this to Abdul Salam(I hope I got the name right) , the only Nobel prize winner from Pakistan. He is shunned because he is Ahmediya. Are you really surprised that there was a massive attack on that community? People who read about Pakistan are really not that surprised.

The most important from Pakistan's point view is the fascination of the populace with crazy conspiracy theories!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/world/asia/26pstan.html

Not too long ago even you believed that the attacks in Pakistan is supported by India. The Conspiracy Theory bug had bit you too. I wont be surprised if you still believe that.

Compare this with India whose populace indulges in debates regularly.

"What happened in East Pakistan was a civil war inspired by RAW and its agents, and there were unscrupulous killers on all sides, including Pakistan military officers who committed atrocities."

How convenient. The people whom Pakistan army killed a disproportionate number of them were Hindus. The popular belief goes thus in Pakistan: Hindu intellectuals have brainwashed the students and others to believing West Pakitanis are intentionally sabotaging East Pakistan's progress. Does this sound familiar to you?

Among the predominantly Muslim Mukti Bahini why were so many Hindu Teachers, Lectures, Professors,Journalists,etc were hunted down? This is a Genocide,Riaz. Ask any Bengali and he will tell you.

http://bd71.blogspot.com/2008/05/1971-hindu-genocide-in-east-pakistan-1.html

Here,is a BANGLADESHI blog taking about the Hindu Genocide by the Pakistani army.

It says,"Using the population statistics from Bangla Desh Government and US Government publications this article PROVES that 80 percent of the refugees from Bangla Desh were Hindus and that 80 percent of the 3 million killed were Hindus. THUS IT WAS A HINDU REFUGEE PROBLEM and IT WAS A HINDU GENOCIDE THAT TOOK PLACE IN EAST PAKISTAN IN 1971."

I wonder why the Pakistani army chose to kill so many Hindus when the Mukti Bahini was a Muslim Phenomena and had predominantly Muslim members.

http://bd71.blogspot.com/

anoop said...

Riaz,

You quote Kapil Komireddy. Good. You should read more of his posts. Probably you will stop quoting him after that.

The function of a Constitution is to define the Principles upon which the laws must be framed and acts as a guidance system on how the state should run. Unfortunately, Pakistani Constitution has ventured into areas that no human has been able to grasp till date - God/Religion.

The Constitution is trashed with references to a particular Religion. It even goes on to define who is a muslim and who is not. Pakistani passport applications even have that shameful declaration(Check the link Data Cruncher provides).

India has share its problems. I completely agree. If you have a 1 Billion population and Freedom of Speech some things tend to happen. But, a average Muslim in India has a better chance of success and to get a quality life than any in Pakistan. Uneducated Muslims work hard for their meals in India, but in Pakistan they tend to become Terrorists(Although the case of Faisal Shehzad proves that this rot is set deep into the Pakistan elite also).

As someone pointed out ,the level of tolerance in Pakistan is so low that anyone even converting out of Islam is killed by the mob. Whereas on the Indian side A.R.Rahman is loved and celebrated. Fanatic Hindus,that you claim are in large numbers, haven't even noticed him. His achievements are treated as India's achievements. Compare this to Abdul Salam(I hope I got the name right) , the only Nobel prize winner from Pakistan. He is shunned because he is Ahmediya. Are you really surprised that there was a massive attack on that community? People who read about Pakistan are really not that surprised.

The most important from Pakistan's point view is the fascination of the populace with crazy conspiracy theories!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/world/asia/26pstan.html

Not too long ago even you believed that the attacks in Pakistan is supported by India. The Conspiracy Theory bug had bit you too. I wont be surprised if you still believe that.

Compare this with India whose populace indulges in debates regularly.

"What happened in East Pakistan was a civil war inspired by RAW and its agents, and there were unscrupulous killers on all sides, including Pakistan military officers who committed atrocities."

How convenient. The people whom Pakistan army killed a disproportionate number of them were Hindus. The popular belief goes thus in Pakistan: Hindu intellectuals have brainwashed the students and others to believing West Pakitanis are intentionally sabotaging East Pakistan's progress. Does this sound familiar to you?

Among the predominantly Muslim Mukti Bahini why were so many Hindu Teachers, Lectures, Professors,Journalists,etc were hunted down? This is a Genocide,Riaz. Ask any Bengali and he will tell you.

http://bd71.blogspot.com/2008/05/1971-hindu-genocide-in-east-pakistan-1.html

Here,is a BANGLADESHI blog taking about the Hindu Genocide by the Pakistani army.

It says,"Using the population statistics from Bangla Desh Government and US Government publications this article PROVES that 80 percent of the refugees from Bangla Desh were Hindus and that 80 percent of the 3 million killed were Hindus. THUS IT WAS A HINDU REFUGEE PROBLEM and IT WAS A HINDU GENOCIDE THAT TOOK PLACE IN EAST PAKISTAN IN 1971."

I wonder why the Pakistani army chose to kill so many Hindus when the Mukti Bahini was a Muslim Phenomena and had predominantly Muslim members.

http://bd71.blogspot.com/

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Compare this with India whose populace indulges in debates regularly."

Have you seen Pakistani media lately?

There is much greater diversity of opinion in Pakistan than in India, and strident differences of opinion are openly expressed on TV, radio and in newspaper columns on a daily basis.

Along with minority support for fanatics, you will also find a much larger section of the people and the press engaged in vociferous condemnation of violence against Ahmedis in Pakistan.

The TTP who perpetrated this atrocity in Lahore are being pursued in FATA by the Pakistani military with overwhelming support by Pakistani population.

The rest of what you say is unadulterated Indian lies and malicious propaganda against Pakistan.

You talk about 3 million Bengali deaths in 1972 which, regrettable as it is, is also an extreme exaggeration by most independent accounts. But even if we assume it is correct for the moment, about 3 million Indians die every year from hunger...year after year.

You should be focusing on the quiet violence committed by India against poor Indians 7000 of whom die everyday from hunger in India but their deaths never make the headlines.

Pradeep said...

Mr. Haq... I am tired of Pakistanis using the Indian hunger problem as a red herring when it comes to discussions about extremism. Yes, there is a chronic hunger problem in India. I as a Indian hang my head in shame for this. Yes, the Maoists are the offshoot of failed Indian policy and an Indian system which has failed the aam aadmi. Now let me see you say the same about the Hudood Ordinances, the Blashphemy laws and the right for Amhediyyas to call themselves Muslims. No pussyfooting... dilly-dallying. Outright condemnation...

Riaz Haq said...

Pradeep: "Now let me see you say the same about the Hudood Ordinances, the Blashphemy laws and the right for Amhediyyas to call themselves Muslims. No pussyfooting... dilly-dallying. Outright condemnation... "

My post is a strong condemnation of the murder and mayhem of Ahmedis perpetrated by TTP. It's also a call for action to stop such atrocities in Pakistan by all means necessary.

Data Cruncher said...

If you have to condemn, condemn the stupid and unacceptable law of every Muslim declaring Ahmedis as non Muslim in the most contemptuous way while filling out passport application. The state sponsored hatred starts from there itself.
I am going to scan Indian PP form and check whether they have something similar. Or ask my wife :-)

Data Cruncher said...

more here on state sponsored islamization of pakistan leading to terrorism.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/19-nadeem-f-paracha-black-fell-the-day-050-hh-05

Pradeep said...

No Mr. Haq... One has to be outright insane to NOT condemn the attacks themselves. What I ask of you is to condemn state approved ( not just state condoned ) secondary status of your citizens that are the root cause of these attacks. Please don't give me answers like there is state abetted discrimination in India and what not. Two wrongs don't make a right. For all the liberal thought in Pakistani blogosphere I do not see outright condemnation (except may be a few like Mr.Ahsan at "Five Rupees"). Case in point is this column in Dawn by Ms.Huma Yusuf. Again it is not Ahmediyya Mosques but "Places of Worship". Everywhere I see such kind of double standards exists. It may either be due to hypocrisy or a sense of fear. I really dunno the reason. But come out and change these. That is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

read this state sponsored terrorism
and intolerance. Narendra Modi can learn few lessons

http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/7606/107663069.jpg

Data Cruncher said...

Did you read the post on this topic in ATP. Some of the comments are spot on. Hatred for Ahmedis started once they were declared non muslims.
It was made worse by constant reinforcing of Ahmedis are not muslims, like when applying for passport. What happened on Fri was only a culmination of that.
If this is not state sponsored what else is.

anoop said...

@Data Cruncher,

I recently filled that form and I can guarantee you that there are no such bigoted statements.

Here, is a link to download that form.

http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=3&ved=0CC4QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dewsoftindia.com%2Findianembassy%2FIndian_Passport.doc&ei=WgUETKOQB4iXccS15dUB&usg=AFQjCNEXQo-eOpz933521bG_WLiCQcxB8A&sig2=B-Q_zHBHxOb_pB00EcxsUg

It'll save you the trouble. :)

Anonymous said...

sometime back you were bragging about Abdus Salaam as being a muslim since he considered himself a muslim. Do you still hold that?
I see that in this post you carefully avoid them calling muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "sometime back you were bragging about Abdus Salaam as being a muslim since he considered himself a muslim. Do you still hold that?"

I am proud of the all Pakistanis who have made significant contributions to the world, regardless of their faith. As my post says, I strongly believe all Pakistanis, including Ahmedis, deserve full protection of the state.

aamsvad said...

An Indian Muslim settled in US, talking about Islam and India with an Pakistani lady settled in US.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zznpdjQ7SGA&feature=related

This part 4. Just watch all the four parts.

He answers many of the Q abt Indian Muslims in India.

The whole thing is in Urdu.

Riaz Haq said...

aamsvad: " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zznpdjQ7SGA&feature=related

He answers many of the Q abt Indian Muslims in India."

This Indian Muslim being interviewed in this Youtube video is either unaware or unwilling to talks about the real face of Indian secularism.

When it comes to treatment of Muslims in India, I think some Indian Hindus, like Kapil Kommireddy and Rajendar Sachar, are much more knowledgeable and courageous than the kind of Indian Muslim used to portray a soft and minority-friendly image of India.

Here's what Komireddy wrote in 2009 in the Guardian:

Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984).

Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, explained away the riots by quoting Newton's third law. "Every action," he said on television, "has an equal opposite reaction." The "action" that invited the reaction of the mobs was the torching of a Gujarat-bound train in which 59 Hindus pilgrims, most of them saffron-clad bigots who were returning home from a trip to the site of the Babri Mosque that they had helped demolish a decade earlier, perished. The "equal and opposite reaction" was the slaughter of 1,000 innocent Muslims for the alleged crime of their coreligionists.


According to an Indian government report, produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims were now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men were unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% were unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 couldn’t read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims accounted for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they held less than 5% of government jobs.

aamsvad said...

Sir I asked u a Q regarding your opinion on "Ahmadis non -muslims" issue?waiting for an answer.

I gave the YouTube link to drive home point that India is a working secularism, whether u personally accept it or not!
Well has it reached the Final Goal of secularism?No.It has a long way to go on secularism, but it s on the right track.

Also I am pretty proud of my Muslim brethren, my personal experience(~100 Muslim indians from different strata of the society) is that they are NEVER non-secular (some even pray in Temples, Churches etc others are deeply theological but never communal).

And to great extent the genesis for this secularism is, as repeatedly mentioned by my fellow Indian,who happens to be a Muslim, in the video, that India's constitution is secular.
We are brainwashed (via Schools and Textbooks)to be secular and treat all religions equally.

Also Gujrat-riots and Babri was not only wrong but anti Indian because India as a nation gained nothing but lost a lot.I pray that we repent for it and the culprits bought to justice.

"Muslim conditions in India, sachar and sikands views...."
I hope we can make a realistic progress on this too, for the simple reason that as said by MLK "Mind is a terrible thing to waste" and as an extension to this thought India cannot afford millions of people to be backward (no matter what be the persons religion/caste).

FYI:- An Ahamadi was the Indias Supreme court CJ for a pretty long time during the 90s.

Riaz Haq said...

aamsvad: "Sir I asked u a Q regarding your opinion on "Ahmadis non -muslims" issue?waiting for an answer."

I do not claim to be a scholar of any particular faith.
To me, anybody who calls himself or herself a Muslim or Hindu or Christian or follower of any other religion is acceptable on face value.

As to the rest of your post, my previous responses still stand.

anoop said...

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/31/pakistan-massacre-minority-ahmadis

The Human Rights Watch says this about the recent massacre of Ahmadis,"On May 30, Zaeem Qadri, advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, said in an interview on Dunya TV that the provincial government had failed to remove the threatening banners from the city’s thoroughfares in order to prevent “adverse reaction against the government” by the groups responsible. On the same day, a Taliban statement “congratulated” Pakistanis for the attacks, calling people from the Ahmadiyya and Shia communities “the enemies of Islam and common people” and urging Pakistanis to take the “initiative” and kill every such person “in range."

"The persecution of the Ahmadiyya community is wholly legalized, even encouraged, by the Pakistani government. Pakistan’s penal code explicitly discriminates against religious minorities and targets Ahmadis in particular by prohibiting them from “indirectly or directly posing as a Muslim.” Ahmadis are prohibited from declaring or propagating their faith publicly, building mosques or even referring to them as such, or making the call for Muslim prayer."

"Since 2000, an estimated 400 Ahmadis have been formally charged in criminal cases, including blasphemy. Several have been convicted and face life imprisonment or death sentences pending appeal. The offenses charged included wearing an Islamic slogan on a shirt, planning to build an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore, and distributing Ahmadi literature in a public square."

"Ordinance XX undercut the activities of religious minorities generally, but struck at Ahmadis in particular by prohibiting them from “indirectly or directly posing as a Muslim.” Ahmadis thus could no longer profess their faith, either orally or in writing. Pakistani police destroyed Ahmadi translations of and commentaries on the Quran and banned Ahmadi publications, the use of any Islamic terminology on Ahmadi wedding invitations, the offering of Ahmadi funeral prayers, and the displaying of the Kalima (the statement that “there is no god but Allah, Mohammed is Allah’s prophet,” the principal creed of Muslims) on Ahmadi gravestones. In addition, Ordinance XX prohibited Ahmadis from declaring their faith publicly, propagating their faith, building mosques, or making the call for Muslim prayer. In short, virtually any public act of worship or devotion by an Ahmadi could be treated as a criminal offense."

anoop said...

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/31/pakistan-massacre-minority-ahmadis

Continued:


"In 2009, at least 37 Ahmadis were charged under the general provisions of the Blasphemy Law and over 50 were charged under Ahmadi-specific provisions of the law. For example, in January 2009, five Ahmadis, including four children, were charged with blasphemy in Layyah district of Punjab province. The children were released after being jailed for six months. In July 2009, activists of the Sunni Tehreek, a militant group, staged protests until the local police in Faisalabad district of Punjab province agreed to register blasphemy cases against 32 Ahmadis for writing Quranic verses on the outer walls of their houses. The police registered cases against them under sections 295-A and 295-C. Throughout 2009, Ahmadi graveyards were threatened with desecration, and Ahmadi mosques continued to receive threats. In 2008, at least 15 Ahmadis were charged under various provisions of the Blasphemy Law. In addition to blasphemy charges, Ahmadis have sporadically come under physical attack. For example, in June 2006, a mob burned down Ahmadi shops and homes in Jhando Sahi village near the town of Daska in Punjab province, forcing more than 100 Ahmadis to flee. The police, though present at the scene, failed to intervene or arrest any of the culprits. However, the authorities charged seven Ahmadis under the blasphemy law. The Ahmadis subsequently returned to their homes. In October 2005, masked gunmen attacked Ahmadi worshippers in a mosque in the near the town of Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab province. Eight Ahmadis were killed and 18 injured in the attack. The perpetrators remain at large."

Riaz Haq said...

Israeli foreign minister is dragging events in India and Pakistan in a desperate bid to defend Israel's bloody assault on Gaza flotilla, according to a report in Times of India:

JERUSALEM: In an unusual step, Israel, which is facing global criticism for attacking an aid flotilla, has said violent incidents in countries like India and Pakistan in the past one month which claimed 500 lives have been "ignored" while it is being condemned for its "unmistakably defensive actions".

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman "reminded" the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that in the past month alone 500 people were killed in various incidents in Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and India, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"While the international community remained silent and passive, and generally ignored the occurences, Israel is being condemned for unmistakably defensive actions," a Foreign Ministry statement quoted Lieberman as saying.


This is the first time that Israel has dragged India into a controversy. New Delhi has already condemned the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip saying there was no justification for indiscriminate use of force.

He is understood to have told Ban that the incident related to Gaza aid flotilla was about the "basic right of Israeli soldiers to defend themselves against an attack by a gang of thugs and terror supporters who had prepared clubs, metal crowbars and knives in advance of confrontation."

Lieberman expressed "regret" at the behaviour of the international community.

"All of Israel's proposals to the Turkish government to transfer the humanitarian aid in an orderly manner were rejected by flottila's organisers," Lieberman was quoted as saying.

He also accused activists participating in the mission of intentionally trying to breach Israel's sovereignty and creating "provocation that would cause bloodshed".

In an emergency session yesterday, the UN Security Council called for an investigation into Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday, condemning the act that resulted in the loss of at least nine lives.

"... the Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East," Lieberman said.

aamsvad said...

"To me, anybody who calls himself or herself a Muslim or Hindu or Christian or follower of any other religion is acceptable on face value."
Thanks for the reply.If the Pak gov is brave enough it will follow this mindset and remove "ahmadis are non muslims" from constitution. If it does not Ahmadis will face prosecution and that will be deadly for Pakistan. (On a lighter note according to the CONSTITUTION of Pak, NO MUSLIM HAS EVER WON THE NOBLE PRIZE FOR PHYSICS AS "Dr Abdus Salam" IS A NON-MUSLIM! Can you believe that?)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on India's state-owned banks discriminating against Muslims:

State-owned banks in India have been accused of discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.

India's minorities watchdog has received a record number of complaints from Muslims who say they have been prevented from opening bank accounts.

India's Muslim community is among the poorest in the country.

Some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities.

The National Commission of Minorities says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.

Reports say the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.

Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder - even beneath than low-caste Hindus.

Their economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.

Already a number of reports have suggested that India's Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.

This latest finding will add more pressure on a government which is seen as doing very little for the country's largest minority group.

aamsvad said...

what has this "BBC report about Indian Muslims" to do with "Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance"?

aamsvad said...

Comparing apples with oranges again.
"Pakistan is in the midst of a war. Last year, about 3000 Pakistanis died of terrorist violence in the entire year.

In India, 7000 people a day die of hunger, including 3000 children every day."

You are comparing war with hunger
and 15 crores with 110 crores How is that logical? Ok you might say both are deaths hence the comparison. Will you take your salary in Zimbabwan dollars though you work in USA? Both are dollars right.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's report in Jerusalem Post about wikileaks talking about the US as an exporter of international terrorism:

According to a CIA analysis released by Web site Wikileaks on Wednesday, the US is an "exporter of terrorism" and has been for many years.

Further, says the analysis, if the rest of the world were to begin regarding the US as such, diplomatic relations could be severely damaged and willingness to cooperate with US activities could be hindered.

The classified report, titled "What if Foreigners See the United States as an Exporter of Terrorism?" was produced in February 2010 by the CIA's Red Cell, a think tank set up in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

According to The Washington Post, a CIA spokesperson played down the report, saying that it was compiled simply to provoke thought and present a range of views.

It considers international terrorist organizations targeting and recruiting Americans. It says:

"Less attention has been paid to homegrown terrorism, not exclusively Muslim terrorists, exported overseas to target non-US persons. This report examines the implications of what it would mean for the US to be seen increasingly as an incubator and 'exporter of terrorism.'"

The online whistle-blower organization Wikileaks calls itself a "multi-jurisdictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public."

Last month the group published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and field reports on the war in Afghanistan.


http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=186034

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of how the BBC is reporting the Ayodhya verdict by Allahabad High Court today:

In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect.


Allahabad High Court is trying to create a false appearance of Solomon's wisdom by ordering what is being advertised as "split-the-baby" verdict.

In reality, though, the court has wrongly sided with the violent Hindutva outfits in practice by giving the main site where Babri masjid stood to Hindus.

Let's hope and pray that this latest verdict does not lead to more innocent blood being shed because of an unwise and unjust court ruling favoring the Hindu provocateurs and perpetrators of the crime of demolishing Babri mosque in 1992 and subsequent massacres of Muslim minority.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from a piece by Girish Shahane, Mumbai-based freelance journalist. He writes the blog Shoot First, Mumble Later:

...These sorts of errors bothered me far less than the constant highlighting of atrocities, often fictional ones, by Muslim rulers. The entry on Konark read, "The massive Sun Temple was constructed in mid-13th century, probably by Orissan king Narashimhadev I to celebrate his military victory over the Muslims. In use for maybe only three centuries, the first blow occurred in the late 16th century when marauding Mughals removed the copper over the cupola. This vandalism may have dislodged the loadstone leading to the partial collapse of the 40m-high sikhara." As a child, I'd heard the tale of a giant magnet holding the Sun Temple's girders in place. By the time I was in my late teens, I knew Indian temples were made of stone and used little metal. The idea of a lodestone atop the Sun Temple keeping the structure together, while making compasses on passing ships go haywire, was manifestly absurd. Not too absurd for Lonely Planet, though, which lays blame for this imaginary vandalism at the door of Mughals, whose only connection with Konark in the late 16th century was a laudatory passage about the structure composed by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari.

Temples, even grand ones can collapse from natural causes, as evidenced by the recent fall of the 500 year old gopuram of the Srikalahasti temple.

In India, however, any damage to old Hindu religious structures is reflexively attributed to 'the Muslims'. That phrase itself is objectionable, in my view. Lonely Planet never clubs the British and Portuguese together as 'the Christians', so why place rulers from varied ethnic backgrounds and historical eras into a hold all category such as 'the Muslims'?

The Sun Temple isn't the only instance of Lonely Planet inventing acts of Muslim vandalism. The entry for Himachal's Brajeshwari Temple states, "Famous for its wealth, the temple was looted by a string of invaders, from Mahmud of Ghazni to Jehangir". Mahmud did, indeed, loot the Brajeshwari temple. But Jehangir was neither an invader, having been born and bred in India, nor a plunderer of holy sites. He loved that region of the country, and did much to improve it.

Mughals keep unjustly getting the wrong end of the stick throughout the book. The background to Amritsar and its Golden Temple reads, "The original site for the city was granted by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but another Mughal, Ahmad Shah Durani, sacked Amritsar in 1761 and destroyed the temple." Durrani was, of course, not a Mughal at all. But hey, these guys are all Muslims, right? Mughal, Turk, Afghan, big difference. That attitude is probably why Allaudin Khilji is wrongly labelled a Pathan: "Chittor's first defeat occurred in 1303 when Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan king of Delhi, besieged the fort, apparently to capture the beautiful Padmini, wife of the rana's (king's) uncle, Bhim Singh." Actually, misidentifying a Turko-Afghan as a Pathan is a minor error. The big howler in the sentence is LP's propagation of the myth of Rani Padmini. Back in the early 14th century, Khilji was on a campaign in Rajputana, capturing one fort after another, and Chittor was on his list. He didn't need a special reason to besiege it. The great poet and mystic Amir Khusro, who chronicled Khilji's campaign, made no mention of any Padmini. The story was dreamt up much later to contrast the treachery and lasciviousness of the Muslim ruler against the bravery and chivalry of his Hindu Rajput antagonists. I feel like saying to the Rajputs, "Guys, Khilji won, you lost, get over it."

Riaz Haq said...

According to a report from Loonwatch.com's Mr. Danios, various news commentators and others expressing Islamophobia have been popularizing the claim that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but (nearly) all terrorists are Muslims.”

Despite this idea becoming axiomatic in some circles, it is quite simply not factual. In fact official FBI records to show that only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were carried out by "Muslim" extremists. The remaining 94% were from other groups (42% from Latinos, 24% from extreme left wing groups, 7% from extremist Jews, 5% from communists, and 16% from all other groups).

However, across the Atlantic Ocean, in Europe, the data is even more staggering. The data gathered by Europol strengthens the argument even further. Europol publishes an annual report entitled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report. On their official website, users can access the reports from 2007, 2008, and 2009.
The results are stark, and prove decisively that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, a whopping 99.6% of terrorist attacks in Europe were by non-Muslim groups; a good 84.8% of attacks were from separatist groups completely unrelated to Islam. Leftist groups accounted for over sixteen times as much terrorism as radical Islamic groups. Only a minute 0.4% of terrorist attacks from 2007 to 2009 could be attributed to extremist Muslims.

http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005/terror02_05

http://www.europol.europa.eu/index.asp?page=publications&language=&utm_s ource=Islamic+Information+Center&utm_campaign=a7514f23fb-Interfaith&utm_ medium=email

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Beena Sarwar on secularism debate in Pakistan:

First of all, the very fact that this discussion is taking place in a mainstream newspaper -- even though it is in English, which limits its outreach -- is something to appreciate.

Secondly, the discussion is taking place at a time when Pakistan, indeed the world, finds itself polarised as never before. Never before have we seen such extremes jostling for ascendency at the same time. In Pakistan, the extremes are most visible in the attire people, particularly women, wear out on the streets (from jeans to burqas), the gatherings and functions they attend (from religious gatherings to musical evenings, fashion shows and wild underground parties), what they are reading (religious literature to Communist readings that would have landed them in jail in the Zia years), the television and films they are watching (religious shows to uncensored films on DVD, and Indian films at mainstream cinemas), and how they express their views (through writings, art, music, seminars and peaceful candlelight demonstrations to violent protests and suicide bombings).

The entire gamut is there, from the extreme left to the extreme right, from wild permissiveness to ultra-conservatism -- the latter apparently on the rise not just in Pakistan but around the world. In fact, this ascendency of the Right is so strong that the demons of religion-based militancy unleashed during the Zia years can take down even those who adhere to the late General's world views: a Zaid Hamid can lose even as Gen Zia wins, as the UK-based researcher Anas Abbas interestingly posited it. The charismatic right-wing cult leader, who had sucked into his fold youth icons like the fashion designer Maria B and rock singer Ali Azmat, had to go into hiding not because progressive Pakistanis prevailed against his virulent pan-Islamist, anti-India world view, but because he offended his own.

This is a time when the 'blasphemy laws' as they are applied in Pakistan are causing a worldwide uproar because of the injustice they perpetuate; ......

We're talking about secularism at a time when supposedly educated people, including parliamentarians and politicians are 'warning' the government not to tamper with these blasphemy laws, or else face the 'consequences'. It is ironic that such a warning was issued recently by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)....
We can now have this debate in the pages of this English-language newspaper, 20 years after Gen. Zia's departure, because those who hold these violent beliefs consider us to be irrelevant. So is the situation hopeless for people like us? No, because these discussions are not taking place in a vacuum. There is a lot of questioning going on in Pakistan at various levels about religion and its role in the state. These discussions are taking place in many languages and at many fora. Thousands if not millions of activists, political workers and ordinary citizens in Pakistan share the belief that religion should be a private matter, which should not be imposed violently.

The rise of the Internet -- according to one estimate, as many as 18 million Pakistanis have Internet access -- means that people have other alternatives to share information that the dominant news media sidelines. Blogs or facebook pages like SecularPakistan or SayNoToTheStateReligion may not have millions of followers but their readership is growing. Amidst the cacophony of jihadist views that regularly find space on radio and television networks are also voices that courageously question the role religion has been given in Pakistan. The trickle may not become a flood anytime soon, but neither is it about to dry up and disappear.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Beena Sarwar on the role of Pakistani media in the aftermath of Gov Taseer's assassination:

..
... To top it all, how was the opportunity created to transform Qadri into a celebrity? Who informed people about his court appearances, resulting in crowds gathering, chanting slogans and showering him with rose petals? Television cameras broadcast all this, further glorifying the murderer. These slogans, and the banners and posters supporting Qadri that have cropped up around the country, have not only turned this man’s cowardice – in shooting at an unarmed victim – into some kind of heroism, it has resulted in further intimidation of anyone who supports amendments to the controversial, man-made ‘blasphemy laws’.

Such was the manufactured hype and the propaganda around Qadri’s supposed act of valour that a group of lawyers (mostly supporters of the PML-N and PML-Q) hailed him as a hero and vowed to fight his case pro bono. And these are the people who are supposed to uphold rule of law.

Then there was the preposterous video clip of the murderer in police custody, singing a ‘naat’ (religious song), apparently filmed by policeman on his cell-phone and released to the media and the internet.

The glorification of Qadri’s criminal act of murder could not be possible without the vilification of Salmaan Taseer’s supposed ‘blasphemy’ – for which there is not an iota of evidence anywhere. The build-up to the murder owes much to the Pakistani TV talk shows and channels that perpetuated this false propaganda against the Governor. This propaganda is what led to the widespread belief that the Governor was somehow, preposterously, guilty of his own murder – in much the same way that attention is diverted to what a rape victim was wearing or doing.

The media editors and bosses belatedly realised the effect that the constant exposure of Qadri was having. According to a senior inside source at a major TV channel, they have since got together and agreed informally to cut down on such coverage that was serving only to glorify the murderer.

The 24/7 news channels amplified the outrageous propaganda of the ‘religious right’ that preceded the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer apparently because he took up the case of Aasiya Noreen, the poor Christian woman sentenced to death by a sessions court for ‘blasphemy’. Taseer tried to obtain a presidential pardon for her even before her case came up for hearing before the Lahore High Court, which must confirm the death sentence or acquit an accused. Taseer did not say anything that human rights organisations like the HRCP have not been saying for years but he was flamboyant about it, while being a political thorn in the side of the Punjab government.

There was propaganda also against Sherry Rehman, the PPP parliamentarian who has submitted a bill to amend the ‘blasphemy laws’ in order to prevent their abuse and misuse. The propaganda against her included the outright lie that she was acting alone and had not taken other parliamentarians into confidence. The truth is that she had lobbied extensively behind the scenes and even got the opposition PML-N to agree not to oppose the bill once it was tabled.

The agreement of the TV channels to avoid publicising Qadri’s words and deeds, although belated, is a welcome step. The next step is to take criminal action against all those indulging in hate speech and incitements to murder. Some citizens have begun to register such complaints with the police. Will the government stand by them?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on the rise of televangelists in Pakistan:

Islamic groups in Pakistan were initially hostile to cable TV because of concerns about "obscene" foreign imports, but religion now dominates the airwaves. A new breed of Islamic TV evangelist has emerged, leading to a confrontation with liberals.

On any day of the week, television in Pakistan is a potent cocktail of soap operas, fiery political debate and, increasingly, pop-Islam.
---------
Farhat Hashmi has been accused of embezzling funds from her television show and fleeing to Canada to avoid prosecution, although she denies any wrongdoing. And Mehar Bukhari, known for her political interviews, sparked outrage by declaring the politician she was speaking to was a heretic.

Another mullah clashed with a Bollywood actress on live television after condemning her behaviour - that clip subsequently became a viral hit.

But the best-known of all the TV evangelists is Dr Amir Liaqat. From a glossy television studio above a parade of run-down shops in Karachi, he had an audience of millions for Alim aur Alam, a live one-hour show that went out five days a week across Pakistan.

The programme allowed Dr Liaqat to play the role of a religious "Agony Uncle", remedying the religious dilemmas of his audience.

In September 2008, Liaqat dedicated an entire episode to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmedis, a Muslim sect which has been declared as "un-Islamic" by much of the orthodoxy. In it, two scholars said that anyone who associated with false prophets was "worthy of murder".

Dr Khalid Yusaf, an Ahmedi Muslim, watched the programme with his family, and says he was shocked that a mainstream channel would broadcast this kind of material.

"They talked about murder as a religious duty. A duty for 'good' Muslims."

Within 24 hours of the broadcast, a prominent member of the Ahmedi community was shot dead in the small town of Mirpur Kass. Twenty-four hours later Khalid Yusaf's father, another Ahmedi community leader, was killed by two masked gunmen.

Liaqat has distanced himself from the shootings. "I have no regrets because it has nothing to do with me," he says. "I'm hurt by what happened and I'm sorry for the families but it has nothing to do with me or anything that was said on my programme."
------
The "Veena vs the Mullah" incident turned Malik into a symbol of struggle for Pakistani liberals. Mansoor Raza from Citizens for Democracy, a campaign group that has openly supported religious minorities, says Malik's new-found status as a darling of the left is a sign of the times.

"More and more women wearing the niqab, the full face covering now. Many of these are middle-class housewives that watch these religious shows”

"I know housewives who wear the hijab," he says. "They call Veena Malik a hero. She said what we all wanted to say. Our politicians are failing us and so it's left to film stars like Veena Malik to speak out."
----
Liaqat says these programmes have appeal because they educate. "I want to spread a message of love. Despite all the controversy I am still here and audiences love me because people want to learn about religion. That's why people watch these programmes. People want to learn."

Badar Alam, editor of the Karachi Herald, believes that television could be changing the way Islam is practised in Pakistan - for instance, more women wearing the niqab.

He believes that middle-class housewives who tune into the religious shows are learning cultural practices that are quite alien to Pakistan.

The flux between mainstream Pakistani Islam and a more hardline version of the faith is being fought out on Pakistani TV screens each day.
....


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18729683

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post Op Ed by Saleem Ali on Pakistani media moguls using religion for ratings:

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Mir family moved from Delhi to Karachi where they consolidated their media presence. Over the years, they branched into English print and eventually into television. Currently Geo News, the most successful of their ventures, is operated by a Harvard-educated grandson of the founder, named Mir Ibrahim Rahman (MIR). Under MIR's leadership, Geo News has treaded an ambiguous path of modernist advocacy on some issues and theocratic entrenchment on others. The channel launched a determined campaign to reform gender discrimination laws and the network produced the film Bol (Speak) in 2011 with a strong social reform message to promote family planning and to quell the persecution of transvestites and homosexuals. To its credit, the channel has also provided space for debate of tough theological issues with reformist scholars such as Javed A. Ghamidi (who had to flee to Malaysia to escape death threats from fanatics). The network has also led a peace-building campaign with the Times of India called "aman-ki-asha" (aspiration for peace).

On the other hand, the channel still tends to pander to dominant religious ethos and orthodoxy. Theology permeates the programming as a stark reminder that Pakistan and Israel remain the only two nuclear nations that were formed at the behest of religion and continue to be subsumed by theocratic influence. Most recently, the channel reinstated the show of a highly controversial former government minister and polemicist, named Amir Liaquat Hussain, who is adored by the religious establishment for taking a hard line on issues like blasphemy. Mr. Hussain and Geo had parted ways before for some of his insinuations against minority sects and his alleged fabrication of doctoral degree credentials. Off-air footage of his misogynistic invective was subsequently leaked online but no definitive investigation was carried out to hold him or the network to account regarding its authenticity.

Mr. Hussain captivates the theologically inclined with his monologues in polished Urdu, and facilitated discussions on the minutiae of religious edicts that give clerics the pomp and prestige of "expertise." To his credit, Hussain has tried to bring Shia and Sunni scholars together to discuss points of convergence and divergence in a fairly civilized format but that has been the limit of his tolerance trip. Other sects, and non-Muslims were frequently marginalized or dismissed with patronizing supremacist rhetoric.

Just before the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, reinstating Mr. Hussain is clearly a marketable decision on the part of Mir Ibrahim Rahman. His self-righteous equivocations, cinematic vocal performances and ingratiating servility towards the ulama (religious scholars) will win Geo an ace in ratings. Yet the mixed messages being sent by this network of "running with the hares and hunting with the hounds" continues to perplex those who strive for some sustainable path towards modernity in Pakistan.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saleem-h-ali/theocratic-journalism-pakistan_b_1686353.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post Op Ed by Saleem Ali on Pakistani media moguls using religion for ratings:

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Mir family moved from Delhi to Karachi where they consolidated their media presence. Over the years, they branched into English print and eventually into television. Currently Geo News, the most successful of their ventures, is operated by a Harvard-educated grandson of the founder, named Mir Ibrahim Rahman (MIR). Under MIR's leadership, Geo News has treaded an ambiguous path of modernist advocacy on some issues and theocratic entrenchment on others. The channel launched a determined campaign to reform gender discrimination laws and the network produced the film Bol (Speak) in 2011 with a strong social reform message to promote family planning and to quell the persecution of transvestites and homosexuals. To its credit, the channel has also provided space for debate of tough theological issues with reformist scholars such as Javed A. Ghamidi (who had to flee to Malaysia to escape death threats from fanatics). The network has also led a peace-building campaign with the Times of India called "aman-ki-asha" (aspiration for peace).

On the other hand, the channel still tends to pander to dominant religious ethos and orthodoxy. Theology permeates the programming as a stark reminder that Pakistan and Israel remain the only two nuclear nations that were formed at the behest of religion and continue to be subsumed by theocratic influence. Most recently, the channel reinstated the show of a highly controversial former government minister and polemicist, named Amir Liaquat Hussain, who is adored by the religious establishment for taking a hard line on issues like blasphemy. Mr. Hussain and Geo had parted ways before for some of his insinuations against minority sects and his alleged fabrication of doctoral degree credentials. Off-air footage of his misogynistic invective was subsequently leaked online but no definitive investigation was carried out to hold him or the network to account regarding its authenticity.

Mr. Hussain captivates the theologically inclined with his monologues in polished Urdu, and facilitated discussions on the minutiae of religious edicts that give clerics the pomp and prestige of "expertise." To his credit, Hussain has tried to bring Shia and Sunni scholars together to discuss points of convergence and divergence in a fairly civilized format but that has been the limit of his tolerance trip. Other sects, and non-Muslims were frequently marginalized or dismissed with patronizing supremacist rhetoric.

Just before the start of the Holy month of Ramadan, reinstating Mr. Hussain is clearly a marketable decision on the part of Mir Ibrahim Rahman. His self-righteous equivocations, cinematic vocal performances and ingratiating servility towards the ulama (religious scholars) will win Geo an ace in ratings. Yet the mixed messages being sent by this network of "running with the hares and hunting with the hounds" continues to perplex those who strive for some sustainable path towards modernity in Pakistan.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saleem-h-ali/theocratic-journalism-pakistan_b_1686353.html

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani televangelist Aamer Liaqat is back on GeoTV. Here's an NPR report on it:

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

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

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

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

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

Four years ago, Liaquat did an hourlong special on a religious sect known as the Ahmadis. They consider themselves Muslim. But under a constitutional amendment in Pakistan, they are banned from calling themselves Muslim.
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He lost his job at Geo TV over the Ahmadi program and the violence that ensued. But a rival channel scooped him up before long. And this summer, Liaquat returned to Geo TV with fanfare — and an even bigger salary.

Nadeem Paracha, a Pakistani journalist, says the way Liaquat's comeback was advertised was "just sickening."

"How can you bring back a person who's been accused — not only by the Ahmadi community, but by a lot of people? There's so much evidence there," Paracha says. "How can you call the same guy back?"

That's a question for Liaquat's boss, Imran Aslam, the president of Geo TV.

"He is a broadcaster par excellence. But he must know his parameters," Aslam says.

He says he rehired Liaquat on the condition that he sign a new code of ethics.

"We wanted to know whether he had, I wouldn't use the word 'repented,' but certainly [would be] a little more careful," Aslam says.

till, the TV executive acknowledges that bringing Liaquat back could be a gamble.

"Not only the Ahmadis, but there's a large section of the liberal population of Pakistan, which is fearful of what he could unleash. So it's a double-edged sword," Aslam says. "The guy could become a Frankenstein monster — I don't deny that. But I think he's been chastised a bit — and chastened a bit, too."

So Liaquat is back on TV, more popular than ever. For the slain pediatrician's widow, Najm, that's scary proof that intolerance is accepted — even rewarded — in Pakistan's mainstream media.


http://www.npr.org/2012/08/18/158949900/pakistani-televangelist-is-back-on-air-raising-fears

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pak televangelist Aamer Liaquat Husain "the sinner-repenter":

Mr. Hussain, 41, is a broadcasting sensation in Pakistan. His marathon transmissions during the recent holy month of Ramadan — 11 hours a day, for 30 days straight — offered viewers a kaleidoscopic mix of prayer, preaching, game shows and cookery, and won record ratings for his channel, Geo Entertainment.

“This is not just a religious show; we want to entertain people through Islam,” Mr. Hussain said during a backstage interview, serving up a chicken dish he had prepared on the show. “And the people love it.”

Yet Mr. Hussain is also a deeply contentious figure, accused of using his television pulpit to promote hate speech and crackpot conspiracy theories. He once derided a video showing Taliban fighters flogging a young woman as an “international conspiracy.” He supported calls to kill the author Salman Rushdie.

Most controversially, in 2008 he hosted a show in which Muslim clerics declared that members of the Ahmadi community, a vulnerable religious minority, were “deserving of death.” Forty-eight hours later, two Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, had been shot dead in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.

Many media critics held Mr. Hussain partly responsible, and the show so appalled American diplomats that they urged the State Department to sever a lucrative contract with Geo, which they accused of “specifically targeting” Ahmadis, according to a November 2008 cable published by WikiLeaks.

Now, Mr. Hussain casts himself as a repentant sinner. In his first Ramadan broadcast, he declared that Ahmadis had an “equal right to freedom” and issued a broad apology for “anything I had said or done.” In interviews, prompted by his own management, he portrays himself as a torchbearer for progressive values.

“Islam is a religion of harmony, love and peace,” he said, as he waited to have his makeup refreshed. “But tolerance is the main thing.”

IN some ways, Mr. Hussain is emblematic of the cable television revolution that has shaped public discourse in Pakistan over the past decade. He was the face of Geo when the upstart, Urdu-language station began broadcasting from a five-star hotel in Karachi in 2002. Then he went political, winning a parliamentary seat in elections late that year. The station gave him a religious chat show, Aalim Online, which brought together Sunni and Shiite clerics. The show received a broad welcome in a society troubled by sectarian tensions; it also brought Mr. Hussain to the attention of the military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reportedly touched by its content. In 2005, General Musharraf appointed him junior minister for religious affairs, a post he held for two years.

Mr. Hussain’s success, with his manic energy and quick-fire smile, is rooted in his folksy broadcasting style, described as charming by fans and oily by critics. By his own admission, he has little formal religious training, apart from a mail-order doctorate in Islamic studies he obtained from an online Spanish university in order to qualify for election in 2002.

“I have the experience of thousands of clerics; in my mind there are thousands of answers,” he said.

That pious image was dented in 2011 when embarrassing outtakes from his show, leaked on YouTube, showed him swearing like a sailor during the breaks and making crude jokes with chuckling clerics. “It was my lighter side,” Mr. Hussain said. (Previously, he had claimed the tapes were doctored.)

But that episode did little to hurt his appeal to the middle-class Pakistanis who form his core audience. “Aamir Liaquat is a warm, honest and soft-natured person,” said Shahida Rao, a veiled Karachi resident, as she entered a recent broadcast, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson. “We like him a lot.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/world/asia/a-star-televangelist-in-pakistan-divides-then-repents.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian Op Ed on blasphemy laws in Pakistan as "imitating and copying aspects of western thought":

In the Qur'an there is no equivalent of blasphemy. The idea of reviling the sacred is of course condemned but this is markedly different from the way blasphemy is perceived in post-Enlightenment countries. Believers are urged in the sixth chapter of the Qur'an to "not revile those whom they pray to other than Allah so that they do not revile Allah through their ignorance". In modern Arabic the word used in newspapers and television for blasphemy is tajdeef, from the root ja-da-fa, which among other things can mean to propel a boat using oars. Importantly, the word tajdeef seems to be a recent addition to the language and is not mentioned in the Qur'an.
-----------
There are strict Qur'anic injunctions for those who are deemed to be apostates and heretics or those who revile, curse, taunt or abuse, but these terms all have different contexts and jurisprudential uses from that of blasphemy. Similarly, the Qur'an takes a very strong view against those who create fitna (strife) but then almost every country has tough laws for the prosecution of those who instigate others in order to create public unrest. The second chapter of the Qur'an says that fitna is worse than killing. Importantly, it seems that the most severe condemnation in the Qur'an is for the munafiqoon (hypocrites). Notably, a hypocrite is the diametric opposite of a blasphemer in that he or she hold conflicting views in public and private while the latter openly airs their views. Thus, the hypocrite is much more dangerous.
---
The basic motivation behind these laws seems less to do with religion and more to do with a desire by certain countries to create a homogenous society in terms of religious belief. Thus it leaves very little scope for any form of dissent and facilitates the persecution of minorities. This, of course, is also bolstered by the already exclusionary nature of nationalism. There are a whole series of laws in America and in Europe as well as in "Islamic" countries to do with hate speech and preserving the peace that should be utilised instead and blasphemy laws should be done away with.

Muslims are not permitted to "blaspheme" for in doing so they are actually disobeying clear Qur'anic injunctions that prohibit the slander of other people's beliefs. Those who revile the icons and sacred spaces of others' religions therefore only disrespect the teachings of their own religion. Respect for the sacred spaces of other faiths was famously demonstrated by the second caliph Omar. When Jerusalem was taken he was invited by the patriarch to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. He refused and prayed in the courtyard because he did not want to set precedent and endanger the church's status as a site of Christian worship. Today, it is ironic therefore that the very people who criticise the west and its policies often end up imitating and copying aspects of western thought that do not have their roots in Islamic thought.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/nov/01/pakistan-indonesia-blasphemy-laws-quran

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NPR report on Pakistan's "patriot Act":

Earlier this month, Pakistan's powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan's Patriot Act. Its name here is "Investigation for Fair Trial Bill."

It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court.

To American ears, the argument for the new law should sound vaguely familiar. Pakistani officials say that in order to fight the war against terror, they need to be allowed to capture emails, listen in on cellphone calls, and track suspects so they can stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

That's the same argument FBI Director Robert Mueller made before members of Congress when the FBI sought changes in the Patriot Act.

Already A Common Practice

The difference is that the Pakistani version has been introduced into an entirely different societal context. To begin with, it is an open secret that security agencies in Pakistan already tape phones and monitor email with impunity.

They are supposed to get warrants to do this, but they rarely do. The bill is seen as legal cover for what is already common practice. Another difference: This being Pakistan, the feeling among those who are following the bill is that the investigative powers won't be limited to terrorists. Politicians, they believe, are likely to be the main targets.

"There are two sides of the argument. One is that this is a country at war — a war within and war in the region — so you need certain laws to protect people from terrorist activity," says Harris Khaliq, a poet and columnist in Islamabad. "At the same time, Pakistan has a checkered political history and we as citizens are really wary of a situation where these laws or such policies could be actually used to oppress political opponents of whoever is in power."

It is common to use criminal charges as a brickbat against powerful politicians. Bribery and corruption charges are routinely filed and then dismissed. Smear campaigns are frequent. Democracy in Pakistan is too fragile to allow these kinds of sweeping powers, says Aasim Sajjad, a professor of political economy at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.

"Frankly, to be honest, it is not as if this act per se would be required for this sort of big-brother apparatus to operate. I think it operates in any case," Sajjad says. "The worry is that the state and the intelligence apparatus here has historically been so powerful and so unaccountable that there is a feeling that we would be totally surrendering every last remaining bit of independence or civil liberties" by passing the law....


http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/168222711/pakistans-patriot-act-could-target-politicians

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Global Post on witness protection in Pakistan:

Ten years ago, Mohammad Ajmal was arrested in Karachi for the murders of 38 men. The murders, all committed in the Pakistani province of Sindh, were neither his first nor his last offenses.

Ajmal, better known in Pakistan by his alias, Akram Lahori, had been systematically killing Shiite Muslims since 1996, when he founded Lashkar e Jhangvi, a militant organization with ties to Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

Today, inside Karachi Central Jail, Lahori waits once again to hear the date of his impending trial, one that has been heard, postponed and rescheduled multiple times.

Pakistan’s courts value testimonies from eyewitnesses above all else. And, in this case, two of the three witnesses have disappeared. The third turned hostile.

Disappearing witnesses have become so common that during its last parliamentary session, the Sindh government moved to consider a witness protection bill that would provide eyewitnesses with sanctuary and relocation so they could testify safely. For Lahori’s victims, however, the bill might come too late.

When he was first arrested in 2002, the six-foot tall Lahori proudly told investigators that he was also responsible for killing another 30 Shiites in Punjab.
The confession, though, meant little to Pakistan’s courts.

Since then, Karachi’s high court has acquitted Lahori in several cases of sectarian killings, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses. Though he awaits verdicts from Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, people familiar with Lahori’s case say chances are that the confessed criminal will be set free.

Family members of Lahori’s victims say they have little hope of seeing any sort of justice executed by Pakistan’s legal system. They cite the now infamous acquittal of Malik Ishaq, another founding member of Lashkar e Jhangvi, last July. Authorities accuse Ishaq, long heralded as Pakistan’s most dangerous terrorist, of masterminding the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

While he was detained, Ishaq told reporters and jail wardens that he was personally responsible for the murders of 102 men. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan released Ishaq after holding him for 14 years, pointing to an acute lack of eyewitnesses in the case.

“I couldn’t believe that they set him free,” said the wife of one of Ishaq’s victims. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he committed those crimes, murdering people just for not being in the same religion. Now he’s free to wander Lahore’s streets anyway.”

Activists and top-level politicians in Pakistan say that the cases of Lahori and Ishaq aren’t unusual. In Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, where the conviction rate hovers around 26 percent, the number one reason for acquittals is the lack of witnesses.

The new witness protection bill might help — a little. Presiding over a meeting in Karachi in November, President Asif Ali Zardari acknowledged that a lack of witness testimony was hindering effective prosecution, and specifically directed the Sindh government to work on legislation that guarantees witnesses’ safety.

The Sindh government has already set aside $10,000 for the program, which has been modeled on current laws in other countries, and aims to protect witnesses and their families so that they can record their testimonies in court....


http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/121226/pakistan-witness-protection-justice-law-courts-human-rights