Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Gulalai Ismael who is running an organization ‘Aware Girls’ was presented an award in November 2016 for Conflict Prevention for her NGO which works for women welfare in Pakistan.
She stood up against the culture and raised voice against the man who accused her for anti blasphemy law. She refused to accept the charge against her for affronting Islam.
A 23 years old university student Hamza Khan who calls himself the president of Mardan Youth Parliament was the resident of province Pakhtu Khwa. He began a movement against Gulalai on social media blaming her for disdaining Islam as well as Pashtun traditions and values.
On social media Hamza Khan uploaded a video message on November 20 last year, in which he gives clear instructions to extremists for the murder of Gulalai Ismail with the allegation of blasphemy. Moreover, he accused her of spreading western culture since she advocates female rights in Pakistan.
Blasphemy law which is quite serious issue in Pakistan has claimed the life of all who tried to amend this law. But she took strongly stood against it and let the regime to prove her allegation. Then she decided to raise voice for those who became victim of this law without any proof.
She said that she not only stood for herself but for all those who are wrongly accused. The Pakistani government must make some law to deal with ‘false blasphemy allegation’.
Hamza Khan was arrested after threatening Gulalai for a long time, on social media from different user accounts.
Since 1990, 67 people have been murdered in the name of religion or with false blasphemy law. The governor of Punjab Salman Taseer was murdered in 2011 by his own body guard. He only raised voice for wrongly accused people and wanted to rectify the blasphemy law while his murdered when sentenced to death in 2016 was called martyr. According to an international activist Nighat Dad, in Pakistan people use blasphemy law in order to make people threaten with severe effect.
Gulalai being a female and activist became an easy target of unknown blasphemy allegation which aroused people hate for her. With the constant threat she is working for the rights of women of Pakistan.
Gulalai said she will not keep silent to let these people accuse others too. “When a girl speaks about her rights she has so much power that people think she is a threat to Islam, culture and state all at once. I will not be silenced. I am not afraid from these cowards. I will fight against them and prove them wrong”, she added.
By - Yasser Latif Hamdani Space is said to be the final frontier. The world is preparing to go to Mars. Even our neighbouring country, India, has sent a successful Mars probe. Yet there seems to be no serious discussion on the future in Pakistan. This is despite the fact that Pakistan’s space programme predates the Indian space programme by almost a decade. It was in 1961 that the Science adviser to the then President Ayub Khan, the great Dr Abdus Salam, advised the government of Pakistan to initiate the space sciences wing of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Within one year of this, Dr Salam had managed to launch two rockets into the upper atmosphere and Pakistan became only the third country to have achieved this milestone. Soon thereafter Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Corporation (SUPARCO) was created as a separate body. In his efforts Dr Abdus Salam was aided by another great son of Pakistan, the Polish born Air Commodore WJM Turowicz. Since the 1970s SUPARCO has gone downwards with nothing to its credit. Pakistan was a different country before the 1970s. Talent was respected and religious controversies were just not important. No one questioned the allegiance of people on the basis of theology. What was important was whether or not one performed. Even though Pakistan was an Islamic Republic since 1956, there were no religious tests prescribed for loyalty. Under the 1973 Constitution, especially after 1974’s amendment, all of this changed. Despite promises of equality to all citizens, the very nature of citizenship underwent a profound change. This was followed by the so-called Islamisation of the 1980s, which narrowed the little space there was for patriotic citizens who thought or believed differently from the majority. Two of Pakistan’s greatest heroes, Zafrullah Khan and Dr Abdus Salam, are now widely reviled because of their faith. This is the trajectory that we have followed. I call it “so-called Islamisation” or even a cheap attempt to confuse the people because those who have sought to force their narrow minded interpretation of religion on the body politic of Pakistan have missed out entirely on the higher purposes or the maqasid of Islam. The main underpinning of Islamic doctrine is the provision of social justice not imposition of a few eye wash punishments or to prohibit the free exercise of faith or free speech. By conflating Islam with the latter our Islamists have done the great faith a major disservice. Compare this to the progress of Ennahdha in Tunisia, where since the 2011 revolution, the party has transformed itself from an Islamist party to a Muslim democratic party. This was a party that had stood up for Islamic identity since 1981. However on achieving power it did not insist on any departure from constitutionalism and fundamental rights. How one wishes our Islamists were like Rached Ghannouchi but instead we are stuck with people like Khadim Rizvi who block roads, call for killings in the name of religion and use the choicest abuses against their opponents. The main underpinning of Islamic doctrine is the provision of social justice not imposition of a few eye wash punishments or to prohibit the free exercise of faith or free speech. By conflating Islam with the latter, our Islamists have done the great faith a major disservice There is nothing in Islam that it is incompatible with modern democracy so long as the modern democracy does not prohibit its exercise. A Muslim majority state that is democratic and allows its citizens to freely practise their faith, whether it be Islam or any other faith, is so far as Islam is concerned perfectly Islamic. What constitutes free exercise of Islam is also an important question. It does not mean for example that a Muslim majority state cannot place restrictions on such practices it deems to have a compelling interest in prohibiting. Allama Iqbal famously said that such a Muslim majority state could even prohibit polygamy and that would be considered ijtehad. Free exercise means the practice of those tenets that are central to Islamic faith. In order to be a good Muslim you do not need to marry more than once. Therefore, polygamy is not a central tenet of Islam. Similarly giving women equal rights as citizens is not a violation of this centrality. Islam gave women rights when there were no guaranteed rights for women. How then can Islam be said to stand in the way of gender equality? Pakistan’s Constitution promises equality of citizenship regardless of religion, ethnic origin and gender but in practice these rights are not given due to this damnable mindset that our so called Islamists are carrying on with. This brings me to another issue that has been of grave concern. Since the 1980s every Pakistani citizen who wants to list Islam as his religion on official documents has to sign a statement declaring Ahmadis as Non-Muslims and the founder of their community as an “imposter”. It was this declaration that became the bone of contention last year. If indeed it is the position that Khatm-e-Nabuwat is sine qua non to the Muslim faith — a position that itself is contestable given evidence to the contrary from Islamic history- surely the statement of such a position can be made in neutral terms. A neutral declaration may include that you do not consider any person after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be a prophet in any sense of the word. This would achieve the purpose. However, to force people to sit in judgment over the beliefs of a class of people by name simply reinforces the hatred and bigotry against them. The great irony therefore is that the statement as a Muslim on official documents including passports does not include Kalima Shahada. On the contrary includes the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani, whose negation seems to be more central to the Islamic creed than the basic statement of profession taught to us by Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I had the opportunity of discussing this with an Arab scholar of Islamic Law at Harvard who described this state of affairs as horrifying. From a purely Islamic point of view this statement introduced by the Pakistani government amounts to ‘bidah’ and an alteration of the Kalima. This is what happens when the state tries to legislate on the basis of religion. It ends up denigrating the religion itself. I have always believed in the potential of Pakistan to be that great state that ushers in a Muslim renaissance and reformation through becoming a truly great democracy. That will not happen unless we ensure that Islam is not instrumentalised as a tool of oppression of minorities and women. As we go into the election season, is it too much to ask that some political party takes up the cause of a truly progressive idea of Islam? http://timesofahmad.blogspot.com/2018/02/perspective-pakistan-and-our-religious.html
Regulators in Pakistan have reminded the country’s media outlets that they are banned from covering Valentine’s Day.
Regulators in Pakistan have reminded the country’s media outlets that they are banned from covering Valentine’s Day.
In a notification to publishers and broadcasters, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) writes that “respondents are directed to ensure that nothing about the celebration of Valentine Day and its promotion is spread on the Electronic and Print Media.”
Pakistani newspaper Daily Pakistan reported that the letter follows a February 2017 ruling by an Islamabad judge, who forbade the date being celebrated in public.
The order also banned media from promoting or covering Valentine’s Day events as well as the sale of associated merchandise—and called for PEMRA to monitor media platforms for violation of the ban.
The ban followed a petition by a private citizen, Abdul Waheed, who argued that promotions of Valentine’s Day were “against the teachings of Islam and should be banned immediately.”
According to the Dawn newspaper, the petition argued that the festival promoted immorality, nudity and indecency under the cover of spreading love.
The ban followed Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain’s 2016 declaration that Valentine’s Day should be avoided, calling it a Western tradition that was not part of Pakistan’s culture.
For some in the Islamic republic, Valentine’s Day is an immoral western import—with hard-line Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami holding demonstrations against the celebration on February 14.
The celebration has grown popular in some areas in Pakistan, and businesses have used the celebration to promote products.
Student was beaten and shot by mob in attack that was posted online and widely condemned.
A Pakistani court has sentenced one person to death and five others to life imprisonment for lynching a student accused of blasphemy, a crime which sent shockwaves through the conservative Muslim country.
Mashal Khan, 23, was stripped, beaten and shot by a gang made up mostly of students last April before being thrown from the second floor of his dormitory at Abdul Wali Khan university in the north-western city of Mardan.
On Wednesday, an anti-terrorism court sentenced Imran Sultan Mohammad to death over his role in shooting Khan, a crime he confessed to earlier.
According to the defence lawyer, Saad Abbasi, 25 others were given three-year sentences and 26 of the accused were acquitted.
Ahead of the verdict, heavy security was enforced at the jail in the city of Haripur where the accused were detained, with the area cordoned off by police and elite commandos.
About 100 relatives of the accused students waited outside the prison walls as news of the verdict trickled out. “A day will come that the judge will answer the God. The verdict he has announced is unjust,” said Waheedullah, whose son was given a three-year sentence.
The brutality of the attack, which was recorded on mobile phone cameras and posted online, stunned the public and led to widespread condemnation – including from prominent Islamic clerics. Protests erupted in several cities.
Students who took part were rounded up after being identified through CCTV footage from the university and video clips.
An official report released months later concluded Khan was falsely accused, saying the murder was instigated by members of a secular student group who felt threatened by Khan’s growing prominence as a critic of rising fees and of alleged corruption at the university.
Blasphemy is an enormously sensitive charge in Pakistan, and a criminal offence that can carry the death penalty. While the state has never executed anyone under blasphemy laws, mere allegations have prompted mob violence and lynchings.
Since 1990 vigilantes have been accused of murdering 65 people tied to blasphemy, according to research compiled by Pakistani thinktank the Center for Research and Security Studies.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Tuesday proposed a mutually acceptable verification mechanism, arrived at with international assistance , between Pakistan and Afghanistan to investigate allegations of cross border intrusion of militants. Addressing scholars and researchers at the Woodrow Wilson think tank in Washington on Tuesday he said this was a ‘credible and doabe way forward’ to address concerns about militants crossing over borders with impunity that has bedevilled peace in the region.
“Extremists and militants of any persuasion who seek to advance their security and foreign policy agendas are a threat to peace and security and must not be allowed a foothold anywhere”, he said. The Haqqani network must be dismantled and disarmed but this can be done by concerted and coordinated action both by Pakistan and Afghanistan based on a credible and verifiable mechanism and not by resorting to blame game, Bilawal said. The interactive session at the Woodrow Wilson institute was participated by former ambassadors, Ex state department officers and researchers and scholars of peace and security issues in the south Asian region. Spokesperson senator Farhatullah Babar and former senator Akbar Khwaja were also present.
Bilalwal pleaded for burying the bitter past and looking forward to overcome the challenges that threaten our very existence today, Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said. Besides Pak-US relations the ppp chairman also spoke about the fragile civil military relations, the state democracy and human rights, mysterious disappearances, forthcoming general elections in the country, reforms in tribal areas, need for economic revival, and fighting militancy in a holistic manner. The use of religion as a weapon of war in Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to the emergence of non state actors in the name of religion was a grave strategic mistake, he said. containing the consequences of disastrous policies of the past called for political will and sincerity of purpose which can come only by making a clean admission of the blunders made, Bilawal said.
About President Trump’s tweets he said these generated heat instead of throwing light on serious foreign policy issues. Strong arm tactics and coercive diplomacy gravely undermines rationality in public discourse, he said adding that serious foreign policy issues could not be addressed through tweets. Bilawal also reminded the audience that the US was no less responsible in creating the monster of militants and jehadis. I have seen photographs of former Jehadi commanders feted by President Reagan in the White House where they were greeted by the US president as “moral equivalents if George Washington”.
Today the so called moral equivalents of George Washington have held my country and the region hostage, he said.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Tuesday called on Congressman Brad Sherman of Democratic Party in Capitol Hill.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Tuesday called on Congressman Brad Sherman of Democratic Party in Capitol Hill. Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that Pak- US relations, fight against extremism and the human rights issues figured during the 45-minute long meeting.
Brad Sherman is a Democrat congressman elected to the House from California. He is on House committees of Financial Services and Foreign Affairs and is also a ranking member of Asia sub committee. Spokesperson senator Farhatullah Babar, former Senator Akbar Khwaja and senior staffers of the Congressman were also present during the meeting.
The truth is no matter what we assume as Punjabis, Urdu speakers or Sindhis, no one in this country has sacrificed as much as the Pashtun.
The fact that thousands of Pashtuns have to demand that a police officer who is accused of the extra-judicial murder of dozens of Pakistani citizens be punished for his actions exposes how weak the justice system in this country is. Pakistan’s Pashtun people haven’t come out in force to voice their concerns in over a decade. This march, which has culminated in a protest outside the Islamabad Press Club, includes tribal elders and youth from all over the country.
However, coverage of this protest by the media has been scant. In comparison to previous sit-in’s in Islamabad, this one is being ignored. The question is, why?
The demands of the protesting Pashtuns are that the killers of Naqeebullah Mehsud should be punished, landmines removed from FATA, individuals from the Pashtun community forcibly taken away by state agencies be produced in court, and the policy of applying a curfew in FATA after every untoward incident be ended.
Why is it that a state which wants its citizens to be proud of its nuclear power status, the prowess of its military and its successes in the fight against terrorism can’t find the killers of dozens of civilians — mostly from the Mehsud tribe? A tribe that has been targeted in incidents of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings for years.
''The military can brag all it likes about resettling hundreds of thousands of IDPs from Waziristan who were displaced during operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but the fact remains that anti-terror operations in FATA have their dark side as well. ''
During my recent visits to FATA in November and December last year, dozens of sources gave me details of Pashtuns being taken away from North and South Waziristan. The local populace was also abused both verbally and physically. Children were killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) almost every week. Local tribal journalists have complained about reports about these issues and the trauma they caused being repressed.
The military can brag all it likes about resettling hundreds of thousands of IDP’s from Waziristan who were displaced during operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but the fact remains that the military’s anti-terror operations in FATA have their dark side
Not only have these reports been repressed by state actors, mainstream media has also ignored the issues faced by the people of FATA. This could be because since the creation of Pakistan, the issues faced by Pashtuns have not been acknowledged. Not only have we been discriminatory towards Pashtuns, we have also ignored their sacrifices and love for this country. I distinctly recall that during my childhood, we often shared jokes about the Pashtuns which mocked their intelligence. Much like “dumb blonde” jokes insult women’s intelligence.
The truth is no matter what we assume as Punjabis, Urdu speakers or Sindhis, no one in this country has sacrificed as much as the Pashtun. Nor has any other community put their necks on the line for this country as many times as Pashtuns. If anyone deserves attention and appreciation for their contributions, it is the Pashtuns. The Pashtuns are one of the first ethnicities to make their mark on the territory which is now known as Pakistan. They have been on the frontlines of many of this region’s most significant conflicts. First during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and later in the conflicts that have plagued this land since 9/11. Not only have they been on the frontlines politically and militarily, but also as civilians. They have faced the brunt of US drone campaigns, the Pakistan military’s operations in 2009 and 2014. Their ongoing protest is aimed at bringing attention to all the injustices they have faced because of these clashes.
The Pashtuns have been forced to broadcast their grievances in such a manner because we in this country have accepted an almost hierarchal organisation of ethnicities which gives certain groups a better quality of life than others. We think it is natural for a country to give some citizens stability and safety, while others are completely marginalised.
Meanwhile, our media has become increasingly ideological in how it prioritises the news to how it portrays it. But what is ideological news? One that seems true, when it is in fact made up. For example, the news outlets which falsely accuse the march to be anti-state, because of the slogans a group of attendees shouted accusing security officials of being responsible for the abuse they faced. Well, one must ask, isn’t it the military itself which brags about fighting terrorism and bringing stability to the tribal regions? Is it wrong for those who are innocent but have suffered in these operations to call out the authorities for the hand they have played in their suffering? The impact of this ideological media has been so strong that there are segments of the population which can’t even differentiate between the tribal areas of FATA and the KP province. It is high time that these segments get over their intellectual lethargy and stop relying on the mainstream media when it comes to forming opinions about the Pashtun people.
Once this happens, the different communities of this country can finally begin to love and respect one another as humans and fellow citizens. We cannot simply assume that nothing can be done about the suffering of the Pashtun people any longer. Until that happens, we cannot truly call ourselves a nation.