Kashifiat has posted an open letter addressed to me. I usually don’t answer such letters but this particular ‘letter’ has to be responded to because if you don’t respond to distorted and mala fide accusations, they come to be accepted as the truth. The superficial reason is that our whiz-writer YLH has used unparliamentary language while commenting but the reasons are far deeper – they have to do with the way we envision Pakistan in light of Quaid – Mr. Jinnah’s ideals and agenda for Pakistan and that we mince no words when exploitation and injustice occur anywhere.We have taken note of the commenting here and fixed the comments on a particular post and hope to have a stricter policy in future. However, we reiterate that we oppose the extremist ideologies which are eating Pakistan from within like termite. What Kashif and his friends say is their right and we respect that. Furthermore, I do not blame the young men and women of our age – they have been indoctrinated by the pernicious text-books, Zia’s ideology and the infiltration of Jamaat-i-Islami and jihadis into every nook and corner of Pakistan. This is why PTH, as a voice of reason, faces the dual challenge of tackling the right wing and handling the global stereotyping of Pakistan as a jihadi haven. Not an easy challenge by any account — Raza Rumi
I have been constrained to respond to your open letter that not only brings into question my responsibility as the founder-editor of Pak Tea House (PTH) but also distorts what this e-zine stands for.
There is absolutely no article on PakTeaHouse that represents an Ahmadi or any other sectarian view per se. I personally condemn sectarianism of any kind, and my writings testify to that. Your charge of PTH as a pro-Ahmaddiyat portal is absolutely false unless you feel that speaking of Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as an inclusive, liberal and secular state is an Ahmadi point of view, in which case you might as well declare the Quaid-e-Azam an Ahmadi as well. If PTH authors have spoken about the injustice against Ahmadis for their faith, and there is considerable injustice against Ahmadis whether you admit it or not. We have posted many many more articles about the discrimination against Christians. Does that make us a Christian website as well? We’ve posted innumerable articles on Pakistani Hindus and their contributions to Pakistani society ? Do we become a Hindu website? Don’t you think there should be a limit to accusations?
I have followed the discussion that took place on the article ‘The burden of a “Liberal” extremist’. YLH’s concern was with Adil Najam and his website and not your article. I share many of Yasser’s concerns about the said article not to mention that it was heavily inspired by the Wikipedia entry.
You also pointed to bad language that Yasser has used. We have IP addresses, internet records as well as a plethora of documents that show how you have abused and attacked YLH and his family members in public. There cannot be two standards here – I let YLH’s intemperate language go but have moderated some of the words which obviously have enraged some self appointed guardians of morality. This is to ensure that there is fairplay here.
As the founder-editor of PakTeaHouse, I would ordinarily be very concerned by the language used by YLH against you and your friends but I am also alarmed at the way you lash out against him and his poor wife who has nothing to do with these debates. Is this fair and according to the ‘Islamic’ values you boast and preach?
I am not going to defend what Yasser believes in or does not – am not his lawyer and he is quite capable of defending himself. But let me assure you Yasser is not an Ahmadi and is certainly no follower of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, though it would not matter one bit to me if he was. If anything, he criticises the nature of the A sect and has by and large followed the editorial line where we do not let the Ahmadi websites to post their links and undertake their subtle and not so subtle versions of prosletiyzation or tableegh.
The reason Yasser is important for Pak Tea House is that unlike many other liberal-secular variants of our public discourse, he is a committed follower of Quaid-e-Azam and his real vision for Pakistan that we seem to have lost. Your claim that he does not call Jinnah “Quaid-e-Azam” is pointless like our hollow textbook writers. The Quaid himself wrote in one of his letters:
“I would prefer to be live and die as plain Mr. Jinnah”
It is sad that you accuse us of championing a sectarian or communal cause because PTH speaks out for the rights of the Ahmadi minority as well as other minorities. The reason for this is that we are loyal followers of the Quaid-e-Azam himself.
The largest number of complaints I get against YLH have nothing to with the Ahmadi or minorities issue- it is that he has turned PakTeaHouse into a “JinnahTeaHouse” or that he is a right wing fascist or a secret follower of Jamaat-i-Islami. I am totally swamped by these cyber-shenanigans. But I sort of support YLH Jinnah-obsession for he is contributing to the movement for reinterpretation of Jinnah both in Pakistan and India. Even though I do not agree with him many times on his assessment of Gandhi and other historical matters, I am fine with him expressing his views. This is hardly an issue if we are willing to hear each other and not brand each other with tags, labels, names and accusations.
Let me make this very clear to you – We are a liberal e-zine and yes we are a secular platform and above all we adhere to Jinnah’s ideals for Pakistan. If you have the problem with that- well too bad. If you wish to write against us you have every right to do so. At least you know that PTH does not adhere to any [mis]interpretation of the religion that leads to exclusion of fellow citizens, witch-hunts, suicide bombings or beheadings and lashings of young girls in public not to mention hanging dead bodies on the street.
We stand for a democratic, egalitarian, secular Pakistan that espouses the universal human rights and Islamic notions of brotherhood, equality and social justice and a state which is at peace with its neighbours and a respected member of the international community. Any exclusionary ideology, one that discriminates against humans and citizens, is not acceptable.
If you do not like that please do not visit us. There are plenty of portals where your will find a receptive audience.
Having said that we apologise for the intemperate langauge as it was not a personal affront against anyone but a result of our overactive writer being misunderstood and abused again and again. He should have shown more restraint I guess but I see that you and your followers are also quick to lose self control. Just see the kind of comments a supporter has left today calling me all sorts of names.
Let us hope we develop a culture of tolerance and healthy discourse free of invective and name-calling.