Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rising Tide of Intolerance Threatens Pakistan's Existence

A spate of incidents targeting various minorities including Christians and Hindus as well as members of the Muslim Shia community have raised serious concerns in Pakistan.

 This situation brings back echoes of the events preceding the rise of Nazis in Germany that led to the killing of millions of innocent people including a large number of European Jews. A German pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) wrote a poem at the time lamenting the silence of many in the face of massive atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler.

Here's how I express my fears about the current crisis of intolerance in Pakistan by paraphrasing what Niemöller said in 1930s:

First they came for Ahmedis, and I did not speak out
-- Because I was not an Ahmedi.

Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out
-- Because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the Hindus, and I did not speak out
-- Because I was not a Hindu.

Then they came for the Shias, and I did not speak out
-- Because I was not a Shia.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

I urge all sane Pakistanis to speak out against all agents of intolerance and work diligently to defeat them before it's too late. 

Here are two videos of  recent TV discussions I participated in on the subject:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan

Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan

South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance 

Celebrating Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Birthday


Mayraj said...

You have the order wrong and the severity I think. They came first for the Shias and attack Shias far more than any other group.
It is the Wahhabi influence and Govt is too dependent on Saudis (oil) and Qataris (gas) to do anything meaningful it seem to me. [And western coddling of these two evil sources doesn't help.] And they have now come against "us" as they are now attacking the Barelvis. people need to speak up about root of the problem not beat around the bush.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "They came first for the Shias and attack Shias far more than any other group."

I mentioned Ahmadis as the first target of hate because of the laws passed to exclude them from the fold of Islam, followed by "wajib-ul-qatl" fatwas. Even the Shia ulema participated in promoting violence against Ahmedi minority when TV host Aamer Liaquat's inflammatory rhetoric led to the killing of several Ahmadis a few years ago.

Mayraj said...

And now Sunni vs Sunni
The first bloody attack on a Sufi mazar, or shrine, was a suicidal assault on Imam Bari.With Kabul in Deoband hands, JUI gained a new political leverage in Pakistan. That JUI has been part of every government since 1990 reflects influence it enjoys in the echelons of power

Sabuhi said...

Very good discussion, thanks for sharing

Mayraj said...

Ahmedis are to Islam what Mormons are to Christianity and since they say they are within fold while traditions groups say otherwise there is the problem. But anyway, attacks against them are not in same league as attacks against Shias and now increasingly the Barelvis.
WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists
Wikileaks: Saudi Arabia, UAE funded extremist networks in Pakistan

Ahmedis are under attack in other Muslim countries as well. Other Muslim countries are not seeking attacks like Pakistanis is seeing against Shia's and Barelvis. It is really sad to see what is happening in Malaysia and Indonesia as they had a more seculr strain of islam also reflected in Kerala (linked to the SEA because of trade ties). What this demonstrates is the Wahhabi influences' spread. They have been using oil and now gas income to spread their beliefs amongst Sunnis around the world. As Congressional testimony reveals Saudis have spent over 70 billion dollars since the 1970s (coincidentally after the oil Embargo and petrodollar deal)

Suhail said...

The roots of intolerance in Pakistan lead to Jamiat/ Jamaatis. Before their time, the Pakistani society was very tolerant to opposing groups be they religious or on moral grounds. Eg, rioting to close down liquor shops, thunder squads in universities and such moves were all started by Jamaatis; these had nothing to do with religious sects.

I know a lot of Jamaatis of our university days who have left Jamaat. But then they had become immaterial and of no use to Jamaat even if they had remained there. In the late 60s and early 70s, Jamaat had not gained roots in the country and was a very vulnerable entity. The numerous Jamaatis of that time, particularly of Jamiat at the educational institutions, were a key factor in sustaining Jamaat through that period. Most of these ex-Jamaatis I know did not have intolerant views even then, but were naive enough not to realize what Jamaat stood for. So I think ex-Jamaatis should realize that they have had a role and share some responsibility for what is happening in the country, for their naivete if not for their extremist views.

Jamaat used to be mohajir dominated at that time but then was taken over by Punjabis, and now Pathans are as important in it as the Punjabis.

Anonymous said...

We need to go back to what our founding Father Jinnah said.
Keep it up!

Safdar said...

Your family name is "HAQ" so you will talk about justice all the time. I know when we use to slaughter a sheep at EID and butcher want other animals to move away from the site so that they want seen it. Our Prophet( SAS ) has always preached us about peace and humanity that why he is called "Rahmat_ ull_ Allumeen". Even during Haj we are trained not to kill an insect . Now the so called Muslims they are beheading humans in front other humans not in Pakistan but Syria and other parts of the Muslim world. The people who are killed don't get a chance to get buried as their funerals also bombed.

One to must search his sole and see who is preaching them and which countries are funding them. Please take a moment and review the history and see if such things have happened in the past and whose family has sacrificed his life to save Islam.

Shia said...

Can anyone answer why it is a coincidence that the rise of religion in Pakistan in public sphere also coincided with anti minorities hatred.

Maryam said...

i agree with you 100% we have to fight together for any injustice , i will be forwarding your videos to my friends .

shant said...

i have been a reader of your blog since last 2-3 years. and i have seen a changecreeping into your personality.
earlier, you used datas to show how pakistan is in trouble, but india is in even bigger mess. that did irk me back then, but yes, you were the first person to on internet to tell me about the reality of my country. and many thanks for that.

ABOUT the change i was talking about in you, it was that your recent posts are all about pakitan, and their comparison with indis is missing.
now, you seem to be more worried about your country.
however, i must say, that pakistan is an unfortunate country, where experienced and knowledgeable enterpreneurs like you have to waste time in this manner, while the young generation is getting killed in cold-blood.

Anonymous said...

what kind of intolerance is this?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "what kind of intolerance is this?"

It's very unfortunate.

It's the same kind of intolerance that has cause parents to kill many an Indian girls who have dared to defy tradition by marrying against the family's will.

It's the same kind of intolerance that makes Pakistani Hindu parents mad at times when their daughters elope with Muslim young men to marry them.

Anonymous said...

Riaz there are plenty of derogatory movies against Christians 'Nuns on the run' and Hindus 'The Guru' why is it they never go ape the way muslims do?

kahani said...

Traffic Wardens are not good then can not control traffic .

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.

Anonymous said...

Very well summed-up Haq! I'm glad someone in Pakistan is speaking out against religious intolerance!

My compliments!

Riaz Haq said...

90% of Indians are idiots, says Justice Katju according to India Times:

NEW DELHI: Ninety percent of Indians are “idiots” who can easily be misled by mischievous elements in the name of religion, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju claimed today.

“I say ninety percent of Indians are idiots. You people don’t have brains in your heads….It is so easy to take you for a ride,” he said at a seminar here.

He said that a communal riot could be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs 2000. He said that all somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a place of worship and people start fighting each other.

“You mad people will start fighting amongst yourself not realising that some agent provocateur is behind this,”he said.

Katju said that before 1857 there was no communalism in the country but the situation was different now. “Today 80 percent Hindus are communal and 80 percent Muslims are communal. This is the harsh truth, bitter truth that I am telling you. How is it that in 150 years you have gone backwards instead of moving forward because the English kept injecting poison,” Katju said.

“The policy that emanated from London after the mutiny in 1857 that there is only one way to control this country that is to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other,” he said.

He said that then there was a propaganda that Hindi was the language of Hindus and Urdu of Muslims. “Our ancestors also studied Urdu, but it is so easy to fool you. You are idiots so how difficult is it to make an idiot of you,” Katju said.

Katju said that he was saying these harsh things to make Indians, whom he loved to understand the whole game and not remain fools.

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....

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....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Time magazine about the impunity of Shia murderer Malik Ishaq of LeJ:

The failure to stop these militants is the collective failure of Pakistan’s power elites: the politicians, the army and the judiciary. Less than 24 hours after the Quetta attacks, Malik Ishaq, a notorious LeJ leader, was in Karachi inciting further anti-Shi‘ite hatred. “I don’t have fun making speeches,” the self-confessed killer of Shi’ites told his supporters. “You know what I have fun doing.”

Ishaq was shockingly released from prison in 2011 after the courts said they didn’t have enough evidence to convict him. As is often the case, witnesses are not protected and are either eliminated or reduced to a terrified silence. The prosecution and the police fail to marshal the evidence necessary to support a conviction. There are also questions that analysts raise about Islamabad’s intelligence agencies’ links to sectarian groups like the LeJ and its parent organization, the SSP.

Ishaq has barely been prevented from roaming around freely. He was briefly taken into custody once only to be released again. He and his cohorts are also the beneficiaries of sordid deals with Pakistan’s power elites. When the army’s headquarters were under siege in 2009, Ishaq was reportedly flown from prison to help negotiate a stand-down. The Punjab government, lead by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, has courted votes alongside leaders of the anti-Shi‘ite SSP.

The failure of Pakistani authorities to protect the Shi‘ite population and act against their killers is eroding faith in the state and its institutions. Their failures amount, as Human Rights Watch has said, to complicity. It also raises troubling questions about Pakistan’s identity. In 1947, after the partition of the subcontinent, Pakistan was founded ostensibly as a state for the region’s Muslims — and the minorities that live there. The founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was himself a secular man of a Shi‘ite background.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Pankaj Mishra in Bloomberg on atrocities against shias in Indonesia and Pakistan:

the obsession with the deep state’s incurable malignity or Islam’s menacing sociopolitical manifestations, which actually range from Wahhabi blowhards to relatively sagacious televangelists, obscures how elected politicians, in the absence of substantive democracy, cynically deploy radical groups to practice power politics.

The government in Pakistan’s Punjab province, which is run by the Pakistan Muslim League (N), one of Pakistan’s two main parties, reportedly paid a monthly stipend to Malik Ishaq, who was just detained in connection with a bombing that killed almost 90 people. PML (N)’s arrangements with Ishaq’s banned Shiite-killing outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, are in place for the elections due this year; and, as a likely harvester of votes, Ishaq enjoys near-perfect immunity.

Mainstream politics in Indonesia, as in Pakistan, were free of murderous Islamic extremists well after independence in the late 1940s. It was an insecure dictator, Suharto, who inaugurated the Islamization of Indonesia, a constitutionally secular state, in an attempt to give himself legitimacy and redirect the growing appeal of political Islam, part of a worldwide trend in the 1980s.

But the lifting of restrictions on political activity since Suharto’s fall in 1998 brought other actors on stage, including: the now-suppressed terrorist outfit Jemaah Islamiyah, which was involved in the Bali bombings in 2002; the Islamic Defenders Front, a militia that tries to regulate the morals of Indonesians by attacking massage parlors and nightclubs; and the Justice and Prosperity Party, which won 9 percent of the popular vote in national elections in 2009.

Most importantly, many mainstream parties with secular traditions have gone garishly Islamic in a desperate attempt to distract voters. Local governments have enacted harsh sharia laws while the central government turns a blind eye to attacks by thugs on churches.

One reason for the growing tolerance of intolerance is political fragmentation in both Indonesia and Pakistan. No party enjoys a broad enough base to govern confidently. All are forced to rely on a variety of formulas and gimmicks, including populist welfare programs, promises of regional autonomy and crooked deals with extremists, in a dash for electoral majorities.

It doesn’t help that political parties are basically patronage-dispensing machines for old and new elites, with the capture of state power as their main aim. Ideologies and principles rarely matter in what is seen as a zero-sum game in which votes are aggressively bartered -- when not literally bought.

In this dog-eat-dog world, standing up politically for the Shiites and Ahmadis can be more trouble than it’s worth; and it’s easier to bet on the possibility that the rabid anti- Shiites might just bring in a few votes in places traditionally dominated by Shiite landlords.

Illiberal politics pays -- and not just in an Islamic country. A purely formal democracy, one not underpinned by institutions and notions of justice and fairness, can breed monsters anywhere.

Indeed, India’s prime minister-in-waiting Narendra Modi, whose alleged complicity in the deaths of almost 2,000 Muslims in his state in 2002 seems to help rather than hinder him, is South Asia’s true master of the brutal calculus of sectarian politics; his perfectly calibrated callousness toward religious minorities and the poor is now matched by brimming business- friendliness that endears him to big Indian conglomerates.

Democracy is undermined not so much by Islam, or for that matter Hindu extremism, as by ruthlessly self-interested elites who hijack the political process, using all available means to secure their dominance...

Riaz Haq said...

According to World Values Survey done by two Swedish researchers, India, Jordan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong by far the least tolerant.

In only three of 81 surveyed countries, more than 40 percent of respondents said they would not want a neighbor of a different race. This included 43.5 percent of Indians, 51.4 percent of Jordanians and an astonishingly high 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers and 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis.

Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.

Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, also an outlier. Although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch.

Faraz said...

hmmm not sure why PK is blue. I'm sure PK would rank low in religious tolerance.

Riaz Haq said...

Faraz: " hmmm not sure why PK is blue. I'm sure PK would rank low in religious tolerance."

It appears that there is a small but militant minority in Pakistan that is highly intolerant. Here's what the report says: Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, also an outlier. Although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch.

Riaz Haq said...

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Islamabad, has recently launched a mega project titled ‘SALAM: Innovating Means to Resolve Radical Extremism in Pakistan’.

The aim of the project is to introduce measures for the large-scale de-radicalisation initiatives in Pakistan by suggesting viable policy options to all stakeholders. The project is particularly focused on devising non-military tools (soft power) to fight this menace. It will be carried out in three phases.

Riaz Haq said...

A moment comes, which comes seldom in one's life, when staying silent and uncritical is tantamount to suicide. That moment for us is here, now. Today, instead of telling a few light hearted stories of our innocent days at Dow, with jokes and poetry, I want to take the road less traveled by, and speak about the painful truth piercing at the heart of every one of us....... Need I name I Am Malala, Raza Rumi, Hamid Mir? Therefore, it is inaccurate and dishonest to present this as some sort of a sectarian issue. This is the systematic murder of targeted individuals by a small murderous group. But the state whose job it is to protect the people is complicit through its inaction. How many more doctors and lawyers, women and children have to be gunned down without a single individual being apprehended for these barbaric crimes? There is no controversy about who is responsible for these killings. The perpetrators proclaim it proudly from the rooftops. What level of genocide is needed for us to wake up to reality, six million? When are we going to realize that we are ALL guilty of being Neros playing the fiddle while Pakistan burns? - See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is often labelled a “fundamentalist” state – and criticism of it has returned after the burning alive of a poor Christian couple who allegedly destroyed pages of a Qu'ran.
Norberto Gonzalez Gaitano, professor of communications at Holy Cross University in Rome and consultor on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, speaks about “media framing”. “Media framing” is the use of certain words or phrases which automatically define the shape of a problem, offer an interpretation of the cause of the problem, give a moral opinion about the problem, and promise a solution to the problem. Say or write the word and the word itself projects into the public attention the agenda behind the framing: “weapons of mass destruction”, “devout Catholic”, “the religious right”, “war on terror”, “paedophile priests”, “fundamentalist”, “burqa-clad woman”.
Although Pakistan has fundamentalist problems it is not a fundamentalist state. Discrimination against minorities is frequent but persecution is not endemic; and behind the clamour of Islamist voices remains an educated and concerned opinion to the contrary.
Popular perceptions in Pakistan about Christianity in “the West” are subject to intense “framing” which conditions and influences Muslim reactions to Christianity irrespective of the lived reality. The “framing” about Christianity, carried out in schools, media, and religious instruction, leads to an attitudinal Christianophobia by those Pakistani Muslims who have no other terms of reference or sources of information.
Bina Shah, a Pakistani author, observed that two wars are being fought in Pakistan: the military one, against the violence of religious extremists, and the psychological and emotional one against the growth of intolerance and the decline in room for cultural, religious, ethnic or social diversity. This shrinking of public space in Pakistan began in the late 1970s under the military dictator Zia ul Haq. It provides the environment for the negative framing of Christianity and leads to the presumed “therefores” of “decadence”, “pornography” and “immorality” about Christianity “in the West”.
Mullahs, imams and others bemoan moral failings of “the West” while failing to acknowledge those within their own society such as child abuse, drug addiction, domestic abuse, honour killings and ill-treatment of non-Muslims.
There is growing concern among academics and human rights organisations in Pakistan that the content of educational syllabi from primary to tertiary levels reinforces the stereotyped framing about Christianity, Hinduism and other non-Islamic religions. A disturbing level of misinformation and bigotry is found in media and television. Dialogue and religious respect for other believers are not characteristic of the ongoing religious instruction available to most Pakistani Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Well-educated militants behind high-profile terror attacks in #Karachi #Pakistan. #IBA, #KU, #SSUET: CM

Well-educated militants behind high-profile terror attacks: CM

the chief minister read out the names of the militants, their profiles and the crimes they confessed to have committed.

Tahir Hussain Minhas alias Sain Nazir alias Zahid, alias Naveed alias Khalil, alias Shaukat and alias Mota-matriculate, who is the mastermind of the Safoora Goth carnage, has been involved in terror activities since 1998. A trained terrorist who has expertise in making bombs and using arms such as RPG-7 and Kalashnikov.

He had personally met Osama Bin Ladin and Aiman-uz-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda on several occasions.

Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin alias John, who is the mastermind of the attack on civil society representative Sabeen Mahmud, has done BBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi. Taking part in terrorist activities since 2009, Aziz is a trained militant with expertise in producing different types of literature. He provided funds for terror activities in the city.

Mohammad Azfar Ishrat alias Maajid is an engineer having passed out from the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology. Involved in terrorist activities since 2011, Ishrat is a trained terrorist who has expertise in making bombs and electronic circuits used as timers in such bombs.

Haafiz Nasir alias Yasir, who completed MA in Islamic Studies from Karachi University, has been involved in terrorist activities since 2013. A trained terrorist, Nasir has expertise in brainwashing and motivating people for ‘Jihadi’ activities.

The confessions made by these terrorists include the carnage of Safoora Goth, murder of Sabeen Mahmud in Defence, firing on American educationist Debra Lobo in the Ferozabad area, bomb attack on a naval officer and suicidal attack on Brig Basit of the Rangers, grenade attack on schools and throwing pamphlets in Nazimabad and North Nazimabad, bomb blast and targeted killings on the Bohri community in the area of Arambagh, North Nazimabad, Bahadurbad Karachi and Hyderabad, bomb attacks on police vans on M.A. Jinnah Road, Arambagh, Gulberg, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, NIPA Chowrangi, North Nazimabad and North Krachi and in the targeted killing of police officials in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Shah Faisal Colony and Landhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Comic book 'Guardians' to steer young Pakistanis away from extremism

ISLAMABAD: When Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar last December, killing 150 people, mainly children, in the country's deadliest terror attack, comic book creators Mustafa Hasnain, Gauhar Aftab and Yahya Ehsan decided it was time to act.

The trio had already been working on a series to raise awareness about the corruption that plagues Pakistan — an economically-underperforming Muslim giant of 200 million people.

But they quickly decided to shift their focus to violent extremism — and felt holding candle-light vigils was not the best way to effect change.

Read: Militant siege of Peshawar school ends, 141 killed

Hasnain, a British-educated computer graphics specialist, founded his own company Creative Frontiers in 2013, today employing 20 people, including young male and female artists, programmers and writers, in a hip Silicon Valley-style office in Lahore.

He explained: “It was a huge watershed moment for us. I got together with Gauhar and I said 'We really have to do something about this'.

“We used to stand over there (at vigils) with a candle... but we wanted to do something more.“

The result was “Paasban” — or “Guardian” — a three-part series featuring a group of close friends at college who begin to worry when one of them drops out to join a religious student group that is ostensibly working for charitable causes. Some in the group however, suspect it may have darker aims.

Fifteen thousand of the books are set to be distributed for free from June 1 at schools in Lahore, Multan and Lodhran while some copies will be made available in book stores.

The comic will also be distributed on a tailor-made app the group have developed for Apple and Android smartphones.

Personal journey
For English-language script writer Aftab, the pathway from disillusionment to signing up to carry a gun and fight the so-called enemies of Islam was not just something he had read about in the news, — it was a choice he had almost made as a child.


The art is inspired by Alphonse Mucha and Pakistani artist Abdur Rahman Chughtai, though the action is more in line with Western comics and Japanese Manga, according to creative director and co-creator Yahya Ehsan.

But what the three hope will eventually land them a sustainable revenue stream beyond the donor-funding they currently receive is a digital app they have developed that they say is the best of its kind in the world for bringing graphic novels to life on smartphones.

Also read: Pakistan joins the 3G club

The app is optimised to work on the low-end smartphones available from about $70 that have flooded the Pakistani market since the advent of 3G data connections last year, with some estimates placing smartphone penetration at 20 per cent of the country's estimated 80 million mobile users.

Users can swipe from panel to panel, with simple animations depicting new characters entering a scene, all set to a brooding background soundtrack.

Aftab, the writer, said he hoped other writers and artists would follow their lead and use the app to encourage a debate on what he calls the “real “Islam of peace which he discovered once out of the clutches of his former teacher.

“We want to promote the idea that you don't have to be secular to be non violent... What you need to be is a Muslim who rejects the violent extremist form certain groups have given to our faith,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan mosque imam gets 10-year jail for hate speech

BAHAWALPUR: Anti-terrorism court judge Khalid Arshad on Friday awarded 10-year and four months jail term to the prayer leader of a mosque at Qaimpur Town near Hasilpur, about 90km from here, for delivering hate speech. He was also awarded Rs0.7m fine.

The convict, Maulana Abdul Ghani, was arrested by the Qaimpur police after he delivered the speech against a sect about two months back.

Meanwhile, the ATC announced judgements in four other cases pertaining to the distribution of hate literature.

Muhammad Waqas was awarded sentence of 3.5 months with a fine of Rs5,000, Rafiq Ahmed three months jail along Rs5,000 fine, Muhammad Zahid, three months and fifteen days while Talib Husain was given sentence of 3.5 months with Rs5,000 fine.

RAINWATER: Several dried-up open ponds, locally called tobas, in Cholistan were filled up with rainwater after the recent heavy rain.

According to Cholistan Development Authority’s director livestock Asghar Ramay, the rainwater in the ponds would meet the needs of both humans and cattle in the vast desert area.

He said the areas of Bijnot, Maujgarh, Dingarh, Salmsar and others received heavy rains while there was a drizzle in the parts of Derawar and Nawankot.

Mr Ramay expressed hope there would be grass and increase in natural pastures for animals after rain in the desert.

Riaz Haq said...

Nadeem Farooq Paracha in Dawn:

"When Mirza died the Ahmadiyya split into two sects: the ‘Qadianis’ and the ‘Lahoris’. The Qadianis claimed that Mirza was a prophet, and accused all Muslims who did not accept him as being non-Muslims."

My view: Regardless of whether Ahmadis are Muslims or non-Muslims, the persecution of the Ahmadiya community is absolutely wrong. It must end

Riaz Haq said...

Two of #Pakistan's top #Muslim clerics fight at CII meeting over status of #Ahmadi minority. #Apostacy #Islam

Two Pakistani clerics have come to blows at a meeting of the religious establishment over the fraught issue of the status of Ahmadis, a Muslim sect that hardliners want declared apostates.

A scuffle broke out on Tuesday between the two at a gathering of Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) when the chairman, Mohammad Khan Sherani, called on the group to consider whether Ahmadis, who are declared non-Muslims by the constitution, should be considered murtads that have rejected Islam.

A declaration of apostasy by the constitutional body charged with advising parliament on lawmaking would likely put Ahmadis in even greater peril, given that many interpretations of Islamic law prescribe death for people who quit the religion.

Tahir Ashrafi, a liberal-minded voice on the CII, strongly opposed any discussion of the incendiary issue, prompting a furious confrontation with Sherani, who is also an elected member of parliament.

Ashrafi, who heads the Pakistan Ulema Council, said discussion of the Ahmadi issue would have been dangerous. “Even if five members of the council agree they are murtads it will be a big problem, it will create violence across the country,” he said.

Ashrafi said any attacks on the Ahmadi, also known as the Ahmadiyya, community would likely be worse than riots in previous decades, given the current strength of extremist groups. “We have made a lot of effort for interfaith harmony and then [Sherani] puts himself at the head of the extremists,” he said.


In recent months, a mob burned down an Ahmadi-owned factory in the city of Jhelum and hundreds of people protested against police after they removed anti-Ahmadi signs from a shop window in Lahore.

The CII regularly makes headlines with its suggestions for strengthening the role of sharia law in Pakistan, which in recent years has included a ruling that girls as young as nine should be able to marry if they have reached puberty.

Another controversial ruling said DNA could not be used as primary evidence in rape cases as Islamic law required four witnesses to determine whether a rape has taken place.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Sherani also attempted to force a discussion on whether millions of non-Muslims in Pakistan should be subject to the medieval practice of paying a jizya tax, despite enjoying equal rights under the constitution.

Ashrafi said the grip of Sherani and other hardliners over the council had been weakened after the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appointed nine relatively moderate new members.