Monthly Archives: October 2008

Ajoka Theatre and the Caucasian Chalk Circle

Raza Rumi

Who is entitled to keep the child – one who is a better, nurturing mother, or the one who may be the natural mother but could not care for the child? The larger question then haunts the audience: who is entitled to ownership – the one who has the deed or the one who tills the land?

Ajoka Theatre has revived a production that was first staged twenty three years ago. A deft adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, its vernacular version, Chaak Chakkar, is a timeless comment on the viciousness of Pakistan’s exploitative culture of power politics. Perhaps the duo, Shahid Nadeem the playwright, and Madeeha Gauhar the director, would have tried to capture bits of social reality in the mid 1980s when General Zia was still the Lord Master of Pakistan. Why did Ajoka choose to stage this after a gap of two decades? Continue reading


Filed under movements, Theatre, Writers

Balochistan quake survivors await relief

By Beena Sarwar (writing for IPS)

KARACHI, Oct 29: Poor infrastructure and communications are making
it difficult for rescue and relief teams to scattered hamlets in the
mountainous plateau area affected by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake
that struck Pakistan’s south-western province of Balochistan
bordering Iran at early morning on Oct. 29.

Relief efforts were thrown back by a second earthquake that struck
the area barely 12 hours later at about 5 pm, followed by at least
four significant aftershocks including one measuring 4.5 on the
Richter scale. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan

Where to begin

by Mozaffar

A struggle of the common concerned Muslim is the concern of wondering where to begin? We have problems in our neighborhoods. We have problems in our nations. We have problems overseas.

We also witness the contradictions. We know brothers and sisters who are so dedicated to certain causes related to people far, far away, yet when we — their friends for some 20 years — beg for their help, they are dead silent, except when giving phony excuses.

The following are good responses: Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

Balochistan (The Earthquake Poem)


I am beyond those limitations
Of suffering and indifference
Years of neglect, and its toll
The divine gifts and its effect
All in presence, all to witness

The land is barren and dry
Full of life, are humans , carries
The message and its formation
All there to be seen, to witness
Through years of neglect

In me, marks of civilization
Remain in me, the natural reservoirs
Carry they with me with pride
The people of my land
Carry they with me hate
The rulers of this land, Continue reading


Filed under Citizens, Pakistan, poetry, Politics, Society

Science & religion

We are publishing a guest post by Abbas Zaidi, an acclaimed writer. We hope that this thoughtful piece leads to a reasoned debate on this blog-zine. (RR, ed.)

The cocoon of science around our lives is so comprehensive that it has become more than a sine qua non for the world to go on today. Not only that. In the non-material, non-day-to-day affairs too science is the inevitable, formidable player. Science is a magic wand that gives credibility and validity to a concept or a methodology. It is rational and logical, and its findings and results are predictable. In the groves of Academe, anything “unscientific” stands to lose; from government funds to simple acceptability. That is why, those subjects that not long ago were purely “humanities” now proudly claim to have adopted scientific methodologies in order to be accurate, respectable, and valid. A typical humanities/arts subject tries to adopt a “scientific” point of view to earn respect. But what is the nature of science?

The answer should not be difficult on at least five counts. First, given an overwhelming preponderance of science in every walk of life; second, so much of work, time and money have been spent on science/scientific research; third, given the nature of their job, scientists operate in terms of total precision and accuracy (or predictability, an essential feature of science, will not come through); fourth, science is “open-ended”, curiosity-based and truth seeking; and fifth, scientific results are verifiable. That is why science has become a privileged route to knowledge, and it has become, as indicated above, exemplary for all other branches of knowledge. Hence as a matter of fact, there should be one clear-cut and generally agreed-on definition of the nature of science that should also provide guidelines for non-science disciplines. Do we have, then, one definition of the nature of science?

The answer, unfortunately, is No. A survey carried out by Brian J. Alters of Harvard University, reported in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (Vol.34, No 1, 1997),  shows that 176 American philosophers of science did not agree on a single definition of the nature of science. Indeed, their standpoints often contradicted one another’s. The author concludes, Continue reading


Filed under Religion, Science

Obama Presidency is better for Pakistan

Obama is better for Jinnah’s Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Between rock and a hard place, between devil and the deep blue sea- there are countless ways of describing how stark a catch 22, we in Pakistan are forced to see the current US election. On the one hand we have the charismatic and eloquent Obama, who most Pakistanis have taken a strong liking to because he promises a break with what are generally conceived by the common people here as pro-military dictatorship policies of the Grand Old Party. But Obama has also engaged in rhetoric that scares most Pakistanis. The idea of a US attack on NWFP isn’t so much an issue of sovereignty as of repercussions. Already Pakistan is facing the brunt of terrorism in the world with our lives and property insecure and our future uncertain. Added to our misery are the economic woes which have been exacerbated by the war on terror. Most Pakistanis also fear that the Democrat Party, at least since Bill Clinton’s second term in office has been moving decidedly closer to India, Pakistan’s principal rival. This fear is only partially true and in the long run inconsequential.

The GOP on the other hand has been perceived as pro-Pakistan by Pakistani policy makers since Eisenhower’s term in office. Even though the Democrat administration that was in power in Washington at the time of Pakistan’s inception was perhaps the warmest towards Pakistan in the history of Pakistan-US relations, it was Eisenhower and the GOP that enlisted Pakistan in the Cold War as the US’ most allied ally. The next Republican president Richard Nixon was a true friend of Pakistan and had the vision to truly realize that Pakistan as a modernist Muslim democracy would be in the US’ best interest. However Nixon was an exception. Continue reading


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Ijtihad, Freedom of Expression and Contemporary Politics

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
(Translated by Yoginder Sikand)

Muslims today suffer from a bizarre sense of loss. Perhaps no other community faces this sort of predicament to the same extent. They have failed to make use of the myriad opportunities provided by modernity. One of these valuable opportunities is freedom. The ideologues of the French Revolution claimed that man is born free but everywhere is in chains. This became the slogan of the modern world, and now freedom has been accepted as the basic right of every human being. Everyone has the right to adopt what he or she thinks is right and to act accordingly. There is only one limit to this unfettered freedom: in the exercise of one’s right one should not harm someone else, and in the pursuance of one’s objectives one should seek to use peaceful, not violent, means.

300 years ago, when America won freedom from England, an American man, so the story goes, rushed out into the street to celebrate. He swung his arms up in the air in glee and as he brought them down he hit the nose of a passerby. The latter was, naturally, enraged, and demanded an apology. The first man said to him, ‘Now America is free and so I can do what I want’. The passerby retorted, ‘Undoubtedly you are free, but your freedom ends where my nose begins’. Continue reading


Filed under Islam, Islamism, south asia