Daily Archives: April 6, 2010

The Niqab Debate, 1: Beyond the Veil

Over the next few days, we will run various articles that debate the arguments for and against the niqab legislation that is underway in European countries. Niqab, or full face and body covering introduces a conundrum in Western societies, and we suspect this issue will not be limited to only the Western societies in the near future. While religious considerations must be respected in secular democracies, there come instances when the religious argument runs afoul of the society safety and welfare of its members. We must remember that the argument is between extreme interpretations of religion that runs against the law of the land. There have been reports of Jehovah’s Witness members refusing modern medical treatment. The Western Governments took clear stand against the fact that extremely sick people were not treated in the name of religion. Canada has seen observant Sikhs demanding their religious and symbolic right to carry ceremonial sword, yet the state stood against this extreme interpretation of Sikh tenets.

Does the Niqab symbolize extreme Islamic values, or is it a cultural issue. Does it keep women sequestered in urban ghettos in societies that encourage women to participate? Do women that don burqa day in and out suffer from serious medical conditions due to the absence of Vitamin D? Is a sight of completely faceless person covered from head to toe a security concern for the hundreds of people walking in the same enclosed space with that same person? Niqab is indeed a complicated yet fascinating issue as an increasingly secular world seeks to accommodate free practice of religion in its diverse and multi-religious societies. 

(Editors- PTH)

Beyond the Veil

Monday, April 5th, 2010


The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

– American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald

By Fitzgerald’s standards, the wave of anti-veil rhetoric sweeping across Europe has probably catapulted the continent’s politicians into the intellectual equivalent of the Andromeda galaxy.

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Filed under culture, Democracy, human rights, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, secularism, violence, Women

Islamabad’s Fatima Jinnah Park – Where Planners Failed.

Qazi Isa Daudpota

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In 2007 I wrote an op-ed piece titled "Fatima Jinnah Park Metaphor for Pakistan’s Problems and their Solution" – see http://www.chowk.com/articles/fatima-jinnah-park-metaphor-for-pakistans-problems-and-their-solution-Q-Daudpota.htm . Its focus was on the wasteful symbols of a macho state that surrounded the park: models of missiles, the massive Centaurus Hotel, and Apartments’ Complex, the Army Sector and other extravagances. There was also the issue of the a franchise of McDonald’s illegally set up by carving out a large corner of park.

Here one sees what ails the interior of the park, which has been neglected for nearly two decade during which I have been a frequent visitor.

With the Municipality flushed with money and an overly ambitious Chairman, an expensive, massive landscaping project has been in progress in the park for over two year.

This video which is a small part of an hour-long interview (other segments may be shown later) shows how issues of sustainability have been overlooked by the designer. The park, for example, doesn’t use mulch and or have manure pits to utilize its organic waste. To understand the inappropriateness of the planning for this park see the video:

This clip doesn’t show that the sewage from the Pakistan Air Force Sector flows right through the middle of the park and goes on to pollute Islamabad and Rawalpindi’s groundwater.

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Filed under Pakistan