Sunday, January 26, 2020

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بلاول کا سینٹرل پنجاب میں سرگرمیاں شروع کرنیکا فیصلہ

چیئرمین پاکستان پیپلزپارٹی (پی پی پی ) بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے سینٹرل پنجاب میں
سرگرمیاں شروع کرنے کا فیصلہ کر لیا ہے۔

پی پی پی کی جانب سے جاری اعلامیے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ بلاول بھٹو فروری کے آخری ہفتے سے ساہیوال ڈویژن سے اپنے دورے کا آغاز کریں گے، وہ ساہیوال، اوکاڑہ اور پاکپتن میں ورکرز کنونشن سے بھی خطاب کریں گے۔

اعلامیے کے مطابق چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو اوکاڑہ میں کسان کنونشن سے بھی خطاب کریں گے جبکہ لاہور میں ویمن کنونشن، یوتھ کنونشن اور طلبہ کنونشن سے بھی خطاب کریں گے۔

بلاول بھٹو زرداری اوکاڑہ، پاکپتن اور ساہیوال کی ڈسٹرکٹ بارز سے بھی خطاب کریں گے، اس کے علاوہ وہ گوجرانوالہ، گجرات اور منڈی بہاؤ الدین کے اضلاع میں ورکرز کنونشن سے بھی خطاب کریں گے۔

اعلامیے میں جاری شیڈول کے مطابق پی پی چیئرمین جہلم میں بھی کسان کنونشن سے خطاب کریں گے اور گوجر خان میں وفود سے ملاقاتیں کریں گے۔

Ahmadis in Pakistan allege religious bias


Amid oft-erupting incidents of persecution of minorities in Pakistan, a fresh case of alleged harassment of the Ahmadiya community has surfaced triggering sharp responses from its civil society that wants Prime Minister Imran Khan to first improve things in his own country before talking about the rights of minorities in India.
The Sunni-dominated Islamabad Bar Association (IBA) had decided to prohibit Ahmadiyas from practicing the legal profession unless they file an affidavit swearing allegiance to Prophet Mohammad. The mandatory affidavit declaration also needs lawyers to say that they do not belong to Ahmadi community as they express their Aqidah (faith)” regarding Prophet Muhammad and say “Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani was an apostate, liar and hypocrite.”

“Majoritarian fascism is on the rise in Pakistan. You have no place to complain against India on minority rights,” wrote Neil Ahmad, who declares himself as an Ahmadi Muslim.

Unlike Sunnis of Pakistan, who consider Prophet Mohammad as the last messenger of God, Ahmadis claim to be Muslims in all ways, they consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the sect in 1889, as their messiah and believe he lived after Prophet Mohammad as the “subordinate prophet.” The Ahmadiyas have limited rights in Sunni dominated Pakistan, and even to register themselves as voters they need to either renounce their faith or accept their status as “non-Muslim.”
President of Islamabad Bar Association, Mr Zafar M. Khokar denied that such an affidavit is to harass Ahmadis and prohibit them from practice.
“We had got a resolution signed by about 400-500 bar members seeking such an affidavit. We were duty-bound to put it at the general body meeting where it was discussed and not a single member opposed it. In the end, all voted in favour of this affidavit and since GBM decision is binding on us we have decided to seek such an affidavit with one change that non-Muslims like the Sikhs, Hindus, Christians will not need to furnish such affidavit and only have to make a declaration that they are non-Muslims.
We respect non-Muslims and they can be members of our bar associations and even contest elections. As far as Ahmadis, Lahori group or Qadiani are concerned, our affidavit simply asks them to declare if you believe in Prophet Mohammad,” Mr Khokar told this newspaper. He claimed that no member of IBA has so far raised the issue of harassment or opposed this.
However, the move has generated a lot of anguish among a large section of the Pakistani society including the Ahmadis. “If they (lawyers) choose Islam, they will have to sign the declaration that they are not Ahmadis. The persecution of Ahmadiya community continues in Pakistan,” tweeted Pakistani journalist Bilal Farooqi.
Lawyer Yassif Latif Hamdani, in an article for Pakistan’s Nayadaur TV website, argued that IBA’s move violates the Constitution as it is a deliberate attempt to insult religious beliefs of the Ahmadi community. “Really what moral high ground can we take against India if we allow such blatant bigotry to prevail?” he wrote.

How The Pakistani State Has Discriminated Against Minorities For Decades

God help you if you are a non-Muslim in a country like Pakistan.
In the land, driven by religious obsession, higher values such as democracy, debate, compassion, and respect for diversity, seem pie in the sky — all thanks to a punishing, patriarchal theocracy.
Discrimination against minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not new. Abduction of Hindu and Sikh girls and their forcible conversion in Pakistan makes headlines in India nearly every month.
However, what doesn’t make regular headlines in India is how the Islamic Republic's Constitution plays an important part in the discrimination against minorities.
The Constitution of Pakistan declares that Islam is the state religion and gives minorities the right to follow their religion.
But, as the Preamble of Pakistan’s Constitution says, the state will observe the “principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam”.
Here’s how the minorities are discriminated against:
One, the Pew Research Center says that Pakistan is among the 30 countries of the world where the head of state and government should be from a specific religion — in this case, Islam.
According to Article 41 of the original Constitution of Pakistan, which was adopted in 1956, one has to be a Muslim to become the President of the country.
In the Constitution which the country adopted in 1973, the same requirement was made for the post of Prime Minister.
Two, in any liberal democracy, the right to vote is the basic tool to empower citizens. In a way, the right to vote helps citizens to raise their voices on issues they face in daily life and express their opinion. At the same time, those citizens who don’t have this right can easily be avoided by political parties or the state itself because they are not ‘vote-banks’.
Pakistan’s former dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, had introduced this system in the 1980s.
It was opposed by Hindu groups and they started a resistance movement against such an electoral system. Sudham Chand, who led the campaign to spread awareness and fight against the separate electorate system, was eliminated by Islamists in broad daylight.
His murder was a message to those who were demanding basic rights.
In essence, Pakistan’s minorities had the right to vote, but their votes were largely inconsequential. That this continued for decades tells the nature of the Pakistani state and its lack of willingness to curb minority rights.
Three, the Council of Islamic Ideology.
This council is the constitutional body of Pakistan, which was set up by Ayub Khan. Its function is to give legal advice on Islamic issues to provincial and federal governments and the senate. The government generally appoints Maulanas and Islamic scholars as members of this council.
Whenever a Bill is passed by a provincial Assembly and/or Senate, this council comes into the picture. It often plays stonewall for Bills deemed ‘unIslamic’. This is the same council that advised Pakistani husbands to ‘lightly beat’ their wives.
This example is enough to show how regressive and barbaric the organization is.
Such an attempt was made and became successful in November of 2016. Anyone interested in Pakistani affairs knows that Sindh has the highest population of Hindus and they are being forcibly converted there. To stop that conversion, Sindh province Assembly passed a Bill.
The Bill was sent to the Governor so it could become law. But the Council of Islamic Ideology blocked the Bill by labeling it ‘unIslamic’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
This is how fundamentalism is institutionalized in Pakistan. The Pakistani Constitution and system rely on Sharia to a great extent. Another research done by Pew Research Center shows us that 81 percent of Pakistanis believe that Sharia law is the ‘word of God’ and can’t be changed in any condition.
The mentality of society can be reflected in the elected representatives and the laws passed by them.
This is nothing but the tip of the iceberg. What minorities in Pakistan regularly face owing to their religious beliefs cannot be fathomed by those sitting in lands where rights gain primacy over duties. And this is the fact, not fiction!

Zindagi Tamasha - Circus of censorship

Sarwat Ali

Khoosat’s latest film becomes the new target of ultra-religious mob wrath.
Zindagi Tamasha has become controversial despite the fact that the film has not yet been released, and except the censor board, no one has seen it in full. However, its trailer has brewed a storm and calls have been made to ban the film.

Sarmad Khoosat, one of our most creative directors, has been running from pillar-to-post to make sense of his film’s treatment. He has even written to the prime minister, to explain the reality of the situation. Obviously, there was no satisfactory response which only added to his fears; that his effort and time will have been wasted, as the film would not be screened publically, according to schedule.
This is yet another example of shrinking space and the narrowing of avenues where and through which ideas can be expressed, aired and then become subjects of debate. There is a vast difference between a debate and a controversy; a debate is an invitation to join in stretching the canvas upon which ideas can be explored; while controversy is the first step towards inciting violence. It is a death knell to the freedoms that we cherish so much in contemporary times.
Really, this is the issue. Decisions are being made in areas where they are not supposed to be made. The forum which determines the acceptability of a film for public display, is the censor board. Due to the devolution of powers to provinces, there is one small and ineffective board at the centre, while each province has its own.
As the central board and two provincial boards had cleared the film for public viewing, far-right parties such as the Tehrik-i-Labbaik Pakistan, took the matter to the streets and alleged that the film contained blasphemous material. The threat of mob violence and country-wide protests was given. Voices are raised for the film to be banned and not screened; in fear of a violent backlash. The only threat that matters in Pakistan, is of mob violence and resultantly the prevalence of mob justice. Unfortunately, this is becoming the new-normal that no-one can deny; institutions are made ineffective, as they are not allowed to function, under threat of mob rule. Decisions taken by relevant forums too, are under the ominous shadow of street power at times.
Khoosat is a highly creative person, who deserves credit for standing up for his work and what he wants to achieve, let us all stand by his side. Such censorial steps will deter other filmmakers who may not be made from material as resilient as Khoosat.
It is making the current system ineffective, powerless and emasculating the civil structure, so that it either fails to make decisions, or does so under duress. For a number of decades, our society has been characterised by fear ruling us, rather than reason or logic.
After bright spots of hope, the same pall of darkness spreads, with greater intensity and desire to kill all freedoms, especially the freedom to hold and express one’s opinion fearlessly. Such hope is perceived as a dangerous sign, which is reason enough to snuff it out – by demonising it – either in the name of religion, patriotism or corruption.
It appears now that the matter is being referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). May I ask; what is the film about – religion or human beings? The proper study of mankind is man; all art is about human beings because it revolves round us. Has the CII taken over or is seen as a substitution for the Censor Board? Is the next step the knocking at the doors of the Organisation of Islamic operation, for the fear of it being detrimental to the common image of the Ummah? This may as well be invoked
Initially, technical objections were raised; that the censor board was not in full attendance when the film was approved, hence it was not certified by all members. However, this is how it is supposed to be, as it is the quorum that is supposed to rule and not all members. It was only that rules and regulations were being followed and no violation or bulldozing of the general opinion took place.
There is a negative and general tendency, where if the final outcome is not favourable, than rules and laws pertaining to the matter are changed, or there is an inclination to find faults with the current rules and laws. There is greater urge to have it approved or disapproved by a higher tier, even if it does not fall within its purview. This general tendency is apparent in bureaucracy, judiciary and government hierarchies – which has actually resulted in a heavy centralization of authority. Everything ends up being decided at the top, and lower tiers are made to abdicate their powers.
Films are hardly made in this country and there has been a great effort at reviving the film industry, the few films that are made, are seen as signs of that revival. But such hypersensitive measures which do not allow authorised bodies to function, can never be conducive in creating an environment where art can exist, let alone thrive. It will take a sinister turn and end up being an underground activity. What is needed most is an environment which nourishes various art forms, alongside an essential factor – a space where one can breathe freely.
Khoosat is a highly creative person, who deserves credit for standing up for his work and what he wants to achieve, let us all stand by his side. Such censorial steps will deter other filmmakers who may not be made from material as resilient as Khoosat, and move abroad to more favourable climes to express themselves – for we have seen so many do exactly that.

Why Pakistan Isn’t Taking Sides After Outbreak of US-Iran Conflict

By Michael Lipin, Niala Mohammad, Mubashir Ali

 Pakistan’s bid to mediate a de-escalation of conflict between the U.S. and Iran is driven largely by its concerns about potential domestic fallout from hostilities between its two longtime partners, analysts say.
Islamabad’s peace effort, launched this month after the U.S. and Iran traded rare military blows in their decades-old tense relationship, also is rooted in its longstanding neutrality toward regional conflicts involving Iran or Iranian proxies, they say.
“We are not going to repeat our mistakes of getting involved in others’ wars. Pakistan will become a country which will make peace among states,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at a public event Jan. 9, a day after Iran carried out a missile strike on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops.
FILE - Pakistani Shiite Muslims protest the killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, outside the U.S. consulate in Lahore, Jan. 7, 2020.
The Iranian attack, which left dozens of U.S. forces with concussion-related injuries but killed no one, was Tehran’s retaliation for what the U.S. called a self-defense strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport Jan. 3.
“I have told U.S. President Donald Trump that Pakistan is ready to mediate between Iran and the U.S. to resolve differences between them,” Khan said in his public remarks, adding that he also wanted to resolve longstanding tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a military ally of Washington.
Since then, Khan has dispatched Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Tehran, Riyadh and Washington to urge them to exercise restraint and warn them that further hostilities could destabilize the region.
US-Pakistan relations
Pakistan has generally enjoyed a close relationship with the United States for decades, according to the Office of the Historian at the U.S. State Department.
Islamabad has benefited from U.S. economic aid and has been a major purchaser of U.S. military equipment. But the Trump administration suspended security assistance to Pakistan in 2018 to press Pakistani authorities to take more action against what it called “externally-focused militant groups and U.N.-designated terrorist organizations operating from its territory.”
When it comes to Iran, Pakistan has long expressed a mutual feeling of brotherliness toward its neighboring Muslim majority state. But those relations have been strained in recent decades by Pakistan’s close ties with predominantly Sunni Muslim regional states such as Saudi Arabia, its cooperation with the U.S. and its support for Afghanistan’s Sunni militant Taliban group — all rivals of predominantly Shiite Iran.
Islamabad has sought to mediate between the U.S. and Iran rather than take sides as it fears an escalation of their conflict could draw in U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and worsen Sunni-Shiite sectarian divisions in Pakistani society, according to political scientist Rasul Bakhsh Rais of Lahore’s LUMS University.
“One segment of Pakistani society supports (Sunni-majority) Saudi Arabia, while another feels closer to (Shiite-majority) Iran,” Rais said in a VOA Urdu interview.
Radicalized supporters
Saudi Arabia and Iran have radicalized their Islamist supporters in Pakistan for years by quietly funding thousands of Sunni and Shiite seminaries in Pakistan, respectively. Some Sunni and Shiite graduates of those seminaries have carried out violent attacks on members of the other sect, fueling Pakistan’s long-running sectarian tensions.
Pakistan also opposes letting U.S. forces use its territory for military action against Iran because of concerns about a potential domestic backlash from militants who would be angered by such cooperation, former Pakistani Interior Minister Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Moinuddin Haider told VOA Urdu in another interview.
In recent weeks, Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi repeatedly has said his nation will not allow its territory to be used in hostilities between the U.S. and Iran.
Policy of neutrality
In the years after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., Islamabad allowed U.S. forces to use an airbase in Baluchistan province to conduct drone strikes against Taliban-allied militants along the Pakistani-Afghan border, Wilson Center analyst Michael Kugelman told VOA. He said the Pakistani government ordered an end to such cooperation in 2011 as U.S.-Pakistani tensions intensified, especially following a NATO airstrike that inadvertently killed about two dozen Pakistani soldiers in the region.
Taliban-allied militants retaliated for the Pakistani-assisted U.S. drone strikes by carrying out suicide bombings across Pakistan. Former Pakistani Interior Minister Haider said Islamabad worries that if it helps the U.S. to attack a neighboring country such as Iran, a similar violent backlash would result.
Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Najmuddin Sheikh told VOA Urdu that Islamabad’s push for peace between Iran, the U.S. and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia also reflects a pattern of Pakistani neutrality toward conflicts involving Muslim-majority nations.
Pakistan’s then-president Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq publicly expressed a neutral position regarding the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. More recently, then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif first declared neutrality in Yemen’s ongoing conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi militants in 2015. Sharif’s successor, Prime Minister Khan, has continued that approach.