Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hindu Holidays in Pakistan; MQM Defections; Trump Victories

Will Pakistan government declare Hindu and Christian Holidays as recently passed by the parliament? Will it advance the rights of minorities in the country? Will the government pursue other measures, including curriculum reform to acknowledge minorities contribution to Pakistan?

Will there be more defections from MQM beyond Mustafa Kamal, Anees Qaimkhani, Saghir Ahmed and Raza Haroon? Who else is waiting in the wings to jump on the bandwagon started by Mustafa Kamal? Khushbakht Shujaat? Haider Abbas Rizvi? Faisal Subzwari? Ishrat ul Ibad? Will ex President Pervez Musharraf be drafted to lead the new party?

Source: Pakistan Census

Will more Trump victories in multiple US states help him gain enough delegates to win the GOP nomination for president on the first ballot at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio? What if the party denies him the nomination on the 2nd ballot? Will there be riots across the country as Donald Trump has warned? How will such events hurt Trump and the Republican party? Will GOP lose majority in both houses, House of Reps and the Senate, in Washington?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Hindu Holidays in Pakistan; MQM Defections... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Hindu Holidays in Pakistan; MQM Defections; Trump Victories from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Hindu Population Among World's Fastest Growing

Pakistan Textbooks to Acknowledge Minorities Contribution


Trump's Phenomenon

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


Amit said...

I remember as a child in the1950s getting Diwali days off at school. We migrated to UK in 1955. My father was Hindu and my mother Muslim/Sikh. My belief is things changed in the 60s or 70s and no Hindu holidays were given - is that the case?

Riaz Haq said...

A nationalism unique to #India. #Modi government demands oath of allegiance only from #Muslim #Urdu writers. …

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under Smriti Irani is asking Urdu writers to sign forms which have the following declaration: “I ___ son/daughter of ___ confirm that my book/magazine titled ___ which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”

A Muslim legislator has been suspended in Maharashtra for saying he prefers “Jai Hind” (victory to India) to “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India). What the difference between these two declarations is, I am not really sure, but it is enough to merit punishment. On March 19 came a report that Urdu writers have been asked to guarantee they are not writing anti-India material.

In today’s India, on the other hand, our ‘nationalism’ is not against another nation. It is against other Indians. This is why it is different. Our great Indian nationalists are rousing passions against their own people, not against another nation. Our fraud nationalists go after their own citizens for their religion, or for their views. Their concern and passion is the enemy within. That is not love of nation. It is hatred and bitterness. Persecution of Indian Muslims and Indian dalits is not nationalism. This word we use so easily as an accusation, ‘anti-national’, is not really current in European languages. Only primitive peoples, like Indians, use it. It means opposition to the things a nation stands for. But who is to decide what positive nationalism is? Other than saying Bharat Mata ki jai, I do not really know what Indian nationalism is.

Jawaharlal Nehru University has been organising open lectures on nationalism. This is available on videos that is accessible to the lay person. This is a noble effort but I am afraid that it will be wasted on Indians. It does not matter how terribly you behave, as long as you loudly say Bharat Mata ki jai, you are a nationalist in India.

Yet, another story in the papers is about two Muslims, one of them a child of 15, tortured and lynched from a tree, just like African-Amercians in the United States. They were herding buffaloes so it is not clear what their crime was. But it is absolutely certain where the hatred was stirred up.Is this making the government pause? Not at all. The BJP national executive is meeting over this weekend and it is calling for yet more “nationalism”. Haven’t we had enough of that already?

Do the people in the BJP know what effect this has on India’s reputation as a civilised society? Pick up any foreign paper or magazine and most of the news about India is negative. Why? Because, as many of us have concluded, avoidable incidents of similar nature are coming with such regularity that it is not easy to escape the suspicion that these things are deliberate.

For those hate-filled, fraud nationalists here, achche din have arrived.

Rks said...

Riaz Haq :"A nationalism unique to #India. #Modi government demands oath of allegiance only from #Muslim #Urdu writers. …"

What is wrong in demanding this oath? What is wrong in saying "Glory to Mother India"? A fatwa has been issued by a maulana in India saying chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai as un-Islamic. Can there be any act more anti-national than this for India?

In 1947 Muslims from India decided that they cannot live with Hindus as equals and broke the nation into two pieces. They were all supposed to go to Pakistan(east or west as the case maybe). When they had to leave, they backed out. India was civil enough to accomidate them. Most stayed back and now want to further create divisions. Political parties who want Muslim votes are making a issue of non-issues.

Can you even imagine a Pakistani Hindu speaking in the tone of Mr.Owasi? He will be shot dead in 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...


Well let us not paint all muslims in the same brush. Yesterday after India thrashed Pak again in a world cup match (11-0), whole bunch of muslims pf Mumbai came out on the street chanting "bharat mata kee jai". In the twitter world, almost every indian muslim, who otherwise are at loggerheads with Modi govt were in full force supporting India against Pak.

If Riaz is going to start endoring the view of maulvis, he should endorse it full, even those in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

19640909rk: "In 1947 Muslims from India decided that they cannot live with Hindus as equals and broke the nation into two pieces. They were all supposed to go to Pakistan(east or west as the case maybe). When they had to leave, they backed out."

It was RSS leader Madhav Golwalkar who decided back in 1930s that Hindus should exterminate all Muslims in India when wrote "We or Our Nationhood Defined", thus providing the foundation of Hindutva fascism that now rules India with Modi at its head.

Here's an excerpt from Golwalkar's book:

"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races--the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Riaz Haq said...

#Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain as #Trump wins #GOP base

“Sire, the peasants are revolting!” by Paul Krugman

“Yes, they are, aren’t they?”

It’s an old joke, but it seems highly relevant to the current situation within the Republican Party. As an angry base rejects establishment candidates in favor of you-know-who, a significant part of the party’s elite blames not itself, but the moral and character failings of the voters.

There has been a lot of buzz over the past few days about an article by Kevin Williamson in National Review, vigorously defended by other members of the magazine’s staff, denying that the white working class — “the heart of Trump’s support” — is in any sense a victim of external forces. A lot has gone wrong in these Americans’ lives — “the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy” — but “nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.”

O.K., we’re just talking about a couple of writers at a conservative magazine. But it’s obvious, if you look around, that this attitude is widely shared on the right. When Mitt Romney spoke about the 47 percent of voters who would never support him because they “believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of them,” he was channeling an influential strain of conservative thought. So was Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, when he warned of a social safety net that becomes “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”

Or consider the attitude toward American workers inadvertently displayed by Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader, when he chose to mark Labor Day with a Twitter post celebrating … business owners.

So what’s going on here?

To be sure, social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)

And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.

Furthermore, the writers at National Review are right to link these social ills to the Trump phenomenon. Call it death and The Donald: Analysis of primary election results so far shows that counties with high white mortality rates are also likely to vote Trump.

The question, however, is why this is happening. And the diagnosis preferred by the Republican elite is just wrong — wrong in a way that helps us understand how that elite lost control of the nominating process.

Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. elite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. That is, for some mysterious reason many of our citizens have, as Mr. Ryan puts it, lost “their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers.

The problems with this diagnosis should be obvious. Tens of millions of people don’t suffer a collapse in values for no reason. Remember, several decades ago the sociologist William Julius Wilson argued that the social ills of America’s black community didn’t come out of thin air, but were the result of disappearing economic opportunity. If he was right, you would have expected declining opportunity to have the same effect on whites, and sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Riaz Haq said...

In #Pakistan, people wait for hours for delicious hot cross buns. An #Easter tradition @TelegraphFood. #happyeaster …

On a regular day, the JC Misquita Bakery looks like any other bakery in Karachi, Pakistan. Customers linger over a display of biscuits and iced pastries and order freshly baked bread, while the employees calmly parcel out purchases.

But as Easter approaches, the workers and owners of this historic bakery – which opened in Karachi in 1858 – start to prepare for the biggest undertaking of the year: hot cross buns.

By the end of Good Friday, Misquita’s staff will make and sell hundreds of buns, working around the clock and appeasing antsy customers who show up as early as three am in wait of the sugar-dusted treats.

Last year, the bakery sold over 2,000 buns in an Easter frenzy that one customer likens to a clothing sale.

Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition that has survived in Karachi for almost a hundred years. Over 100 years of British rule in Pakistan transformed Karachi from a mainly Muslim settlement to a more multicultural city, with many Christian residents. Today, the number of Christians in the city is small - around 2.4 per cent of the population. Many have emigrated, driven by pervasive street crime, militant attacks on churches, the lack of social and economic advancement, and a prevailing sense of insecurity in the country. But for those that remain, a hot cross bun is an integral part of Easter.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan readies paramilitary #Rangers operation in #Lahore #Punjab after #Easter bombing #LahoreBlast via Reuters​

It was Pakistan's deadliest attack since the December 2014 massacre of 134 school children at a military-run academy in the city of Peshawar that prompted a government crackdown on Islamist militancy.

Security and government officials told Reuters that the decision had been made to launch a full-scale paramilitary Rangers operation, giving them powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects in the same way as they have been in the southern city of Karachi for more than two years.

The move, which has not yet been formally announced, represents the civilian government once again granting special powers to the military in order to fight Islamist militants.

"The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page," said one senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to share details of the plan.

Riaz Haq said...

Religious extremists will never succeed in taking over #Pakistan. #LahoreBlast

Religious minorities are an indelible part of the fabric of Pakistani society; they are represented by the white stripe on the Pakistani flag. This is echoed in the words of founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s most famous speech: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

While Jinnah’s message of secularism never caught on in Pakistan, religious coexistence has always had a well-defined place in the Pakistani way of life. The horrific suicide bombing in Lahore on Easter Sunday once again reminded us of the vulnerability of Pakistan’s Christians, and of the fragility of coexistence.

A suicide bomber stood next to the children’s rides in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park and blew himself up, killing at last count 70 people and injuring 300, many of them Christians, most of them women and children.

The group that claimed responsibility for the bombing, the Jamaat ul-Ahrar, is a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban. Last year they killed 15 and injured 70 in an attack on two Catholic churches in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in Lahore.

The sights and sounds in the immediate aftermath of the attack were staggering, though sadly these apocalyptic scenes are now becoming familiar global images, in Ankara, Brussels and Iskandariya this week alone.

Women holding each other and wailing in shock, the blood of dead children staining their parents’ clothes, a young man with an open head wound running into the hospital carrying a wounded child in his arms

The Jamaat ul-Ahrar soon issued a statement: their target had been Christians celebrating Easter, although they said they never intended to hurt women or children, only Christian males. Their words belied the indiscriminate cruelty of their attack.

They also reflect the fact that the Pakistani Taliban have been weakened by the continued military operation against them in the tribal belt and in Karachi. They have now splintered into smaller groups, acting not as a cohesive unit but as lone wolves and renegades that hit soft targets like schools and parks because they can no longer reach military targets or security installations.

But jihadis are not representative of all Pakistanis. One thing to understand about Pakistan is that most of its people are socially conservative Muslims, but only a minority actually advocates and enacts violence.

The majority of Pakistanis are peaceful and would not act violently towards religious minorities even if they do not share their religious beliefs. Indeed, in times like these, Pakistanis forget about who is a Christian or a Muslim, and only think about helping the injured.

As word of the bombing spread through television and social media, people in the immediate vicinity rushed to take the wounded to hospital in their cars, taxis and rickshaws before ambulances reached the scene.

Pakistan’s answer to Uber, a car service called Careem, offered free rides to anyone wanting to donate blood at the hospital. One of the most widely tweeted images was of a young doctor on call with a cannula in his arm; he was donating blood in between treating patients. People from as far away as Karachi stood ready to donate food and water to afflicted families.

Religious extremists will never succeed in taking over Pakistan, even if they maintain deadly effectiveness in spreading the virus of terrorism all over the world.

As with any epidemic, the weakest are always the ones to fall first. Yet humanity is the one thing that inoculates us against its reach. As long as we have our humanity, we will still remain united as Pakistanis, no matter who we choose to call our God.

Riaz Haq said...

#US Sec of State #Kerry: Presidential Campaign an 'embarrassment' to the U.S. #Trump #Cruz #GOP …

"Everywhere I go, every leader I meet, they ask about what is happening in America," he said. "They cannot believe it. I think it is fair to say that they're shocked. They don't know where it's taking the United States of America."
Kerry defended President Barack Obama's decision to stick with a trip to Latin America after Tuesday's deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels — a move that has drawn fire from Republican presidential candidates.
"My response is to quote Charles Krauthammer: The president of the United States' schedule is not set by terrorists," Kerry said, referring to the conservative commentator.

Read more:
Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan removes offensive references from #textbooks: Ambassador Jilani #Hindu #Muslim via @ePakistanToday

In 2010–2011, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) conducted a
review of Pakistan’s primary and secondary education systems to assess the level of prejudice
and intolerance against religious minorities, particularly Hindus and Christians, in both the
curriculum and attitudes of teachers and classmates. These research findings, along with ICRD’s
analysis and recommendations, were published by the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) in 2011 under the title: “Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious
Discrimination in Pakistan.”


Using a baseline of 25 examples of religious intolerance found in the 2011 textbooks, it was found
that most had been removed from the current textbooks. A majority (16) have been removed,
while three have remained more or less unchanged, and six had been changed or expanded in
a way that retained the original objectionable material. According to the baseline assessment,
the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Textbook Boards have been somewhat effective in
removing objectionable content, while the Sindh and Baluchistan Textbook Boards have made
little to no progress in removing the biases found in Connecting the Dots.

However, these results are tempered by the inclusion of new examples of religiously intolerant
passages. This study’s review of 78 current textbooks2
exposed 70 new examples of religious
intolerance and biases in 24 books, similar to the kind of materials found in the baseline assessment.
Of the 70 new examples, 58 (84%) came from books published by the Baluchistan and
Sindh authorities, while the remainder came from Punjab (7) and KPK (5).
The success of Punjab and KPK provinces can be credited, in part, to the advocacy efforts of
PEF at the provincial level from the time when the Connecting the Dots report was published in
2011. PEF’s President met with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, provided him
with a copy of Connecting the Dots, and pointed out biased quotes against religious minorities in
Punjab textbooks. PEF also worked extensively with its influential partners in Punjab and KPK to
raise awareness of biases against minorities in the education system and the potential danger of
violence against religious minorities if the biases are not removed. Similarly, PEF made several
visits to KPK and met with Elementary & Secondary Education Ministry officials providing them
a copy of Connecting the Dots, and requested that they remove biased quotes from the textbooks.
In addition, the PEF President met with the most senior advisor to Imran Khan, Chairman of Tehrek-e-Insaf,
and briefed him on the possible violence against minorities if the provincial textbooks
continue to include biased and intolerant passages about religious minorities. (It should also be
noted that other organizations have raised similar concerns, such as the National Commission for
Justice and Peace (NCJP)).

As a follow-up to USCIRF’s Connecting the Dots study, the overall objective of this research
is to determine the degree to which negative stereotypes and/or biased portrayals of religious
minorities (Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Sikhs, and Jews) remain in current textbooks. The
research compares the current instances of intolerance and bias in the public school curriculum
with Connecting the Dots’ findings to determine the extent of Pakistan’s progress in eliminating
religious bias from its public school textbooks.

Riaz Haq said...

Global 1%, #Asia Middle Class Gained Most from #Globalization, not Middle Class in #America, #Europe. #Trump #Bexit

It is by now well-known that the period from the mid-1980s to today has been the period of the greatest reshuffle of personal incomes since the Industrial Revolution. It’s also the first time that global inequality has declined in the past two hundred years. The “winners” were the middle and upper classes of the relatively poor Asian countries and the global top 1%. The (relative) “losers” were the people in the lower and middle parts of rich countries’ income distributions, according to detailed household surveys data from more than 100 countries between 1988 and 2008, put together and analyzed by Christoph Lakner and myself, as well as my book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, which includes updated information to 2011.

The chart above, the Global Incidence Curve, shows the world’s population along the horizontal axis, ranked from the poorest to the richest percentile; real income gains between 1988 and 2008 (adjusted for countries’ price levels) are shown on the vertical axis.

The expansion of incomes around the median of the global income distribution was so overwhelming that it ensured global inequality’s decline — despite the real income growth of the top 1% and rising national inequalities in many countries. Real incomes more than doubled between 1988 and 2011 (though the extension to 2011 is not shown in this chart), a shift that involved large swaths of people (almost a third of the world population, most of them from Asia). And although our data for the past are quite tentative and in some cases not much better than guesses, it is still the first time since 1820 that global inequality is deemed to have gone down, from approximately 69 Gini points to around 64. (On the Gini scale, 100 would be complete inequality while 0 would be complete equality).


The intuition behind this result is easy to grasp. In most countries, and especially in the big ones like China, India, the United States, and Russia, national inequalities have risen. So if people are more focused on national inequality, their concerns about what is happening at home will dominate the “objective” reduction of inequality across the globe.

This may be politically a more meaningful way to look at global inequality, and it leads to a somber conclusion. Even if globalization were to be associated with an absolute real income improvement for all, or almost all, and reduced global inequality, if it is also associated with rising national inequalities, the unhappiness stemming from the latter may dominate. Globalization may be “felt” to produce a more unequal world, even if it objectively does not. Then the very facts that are globally hopeful and reassuring may have domestic consequences that are the very opposite.

Riaz Haq said...

How Pakistan’s Most Feared Power Broker Controlled a Violent Megacity From London

Though he was born in Karachi in 1953, Hussain has always identified as a Mohajir—a term that refers to those, like his parents, who left India after partition. In Agra, about 140 miles south of Delhi, Hussain’s father had a prestigious job as a railway-station manager. In Karachi he could only find work in a textile mill, and then died when Hussain was just 13, leaving his 11 children dependent on Hussain’s brother’s civil-service salary as well as what their mother earned sewing clothes. Such downward mobility was common among Mohajirs, who were the target of discrimination by native residents of Sindh, the Pakistani state of which Karachi is the capital. Hussain was enraged by his community’s plight. He and a group of other Mohajir students founded the MQM in 1984, and Hussain gained a reputation for intense devotion to the cause. After one protest, when he was 26, he was jailed for nine months and given five lashes.

Religiously moderate and focused on reversing discriminatory measures, the MQM built a large following in Karachi, winning seats in the national and provincial parliaments. It didn’t hurt, according to UK diplomatic cables and two former Pakistani officials, that it received support from the military, which saw the party as a useful bulwark against other political factions. Although Hussain never stood for elected office, he was the inescapable face of the MQM, his portrait plastered all over the many areas it dominated.

From the beginning, the MQM’s operations went well beyond political organizing. As communal violence between ethnic Mohajirs, Sindhis, and Pashtuns worsened in the mid-1980s, Hussain urged his followers at a rally to “buy weapons and Kalashnikovs” for self-defense. “When they come to kill you,” he asked, “how will you protect yourselves?” The party set up weapons caches around Karachi, stocked with assault rifles for its large militant wing. Meanwhile, Hussain was solidifying his grip on the organization, lashing out at anyone who challenged his leadership. In a February 1991 cable, a British diplomat named Patrick Wogan described how, according to a high-level MQM contact, Hussain had the names of dissidents passed to police commanders, with instructions to “deal severely with them.” (Hussain denies ever giving instructions to injure or kill anyone).

Even the privileged came under direct threat. One elite Pakistani, who asked not to be identified due to fear of retribution, recalled angering the party by having the thieving manager of his family textile factory arrested, unaware the employee was an MQM donor. One afternoon in 1991, four men with guns forced themselves into the wealthy man’s car, driving him to a farmhouse on the edge of the city. There, they slashed him with razor blades and plunged a power drill into his legs. The MQM denied being behind the kidnapping, but when the victim’s family asked political contacts to lean on the party he was released, arriving home in clothes soaked with blood.