Raza Habib Raja
Right now, the news of a Christian woman being convicted and sentenced to death by a lower court, are making headlines in some of the liberal segments of society. The kind of sick society we are, I am not surprised that it is not inviting the outrage at a broader level. The Urdu newspapers have hardly given it the coverage but what is most regrettable is the overall virtual absence of large scale condemnation. The newspapers in Pakistan are commercial entities and cater to the “tastes” of their mostly rightwing conservative customers. Heck, even Talat Hussain has to transform into Ansar Abbassi when he writes in our “national” language.
In that small liberal segment, actually a fringe in our society, the blasphemy law is under criticism with calls to repeal it. I would like to point out to all those that they are just targeting a symbolic thing. Culprit is the not the law. Of course law should be repealed, but repealing alone will never solve the issue. For that matter no one has actually been executed after even being convicted. Let’s not forget even if the law was not in existence, people would have simply killed the woman. In fact in blasphemy cases, people have been even killed in the jail when their cases were in progress. Repealing the law will only remove a symbol of religion’s infusion with state; it will by no stretch of imagination prevent people from becoming violent. For that matter repealing it without addressing the real issue will cause people to become even more bigoted than they are now. In fact the law cannot be repealed through democratic ways in the first place until the major issue is tackled.
The real issue is the general religious bigotry which is rampant in the society which in turn emanates from the mindset and the overall cultural set up of Pakistan. This cultural set up gives religion extreme reverence and cultivates an identity based on it, which is extraordinarily sensitive on all the religous matters. This reverence of religion and the resulting bigotry is primarily cultural though has state as its major patron. The issue is not restricted to the fusion of religion with state. State is one of the patrons of religion, but is not the sole determinant of its reverence.
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
On 9th November this year, Pakistan was off on account of the great poet and philosopher Iqbal’s birthday. I wonder why? It is time we had a discussion on whether Iqbal was legitimately a founding father of this country. In my opinion, Pakistan has only one founding father and that is Mahomed Ali Jinnah not Iqbal, without belittling Iqbal’s contribution to the idea of Pakistan. However it does not end there. The right wing in Pakistan – including Zaid Hamid and the Jamaat-e-Islami – not only claims that Hazrat Allama Iqbal Rahmat ullah alei was a founding father but was a spiritual father who wanted a rigid Islamic state. Continue reading
(Love the Ranade portrait behind Obama-YLH)
From The Hindu
|President Obama’s visit did nothing for peaceful relations between India and Pakistan.
– PHOTO: AFP
ADDRESS AND CLARITY: U.S. President Barack Obama bows after delivering his speech at Parliament House in New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on the left.
Let us assume, in a simple model, that the U.S. President Barack Obama wants Pakistan and India to talk and make peace because, in a broader sense, this would lead to stability in South and West Asia which, in turn, would serve both the core and peripheral interests of the United States and, by extension, of the world.
Please note the sub-clauses even simplicity can generate in this part of the world. But leaving that aside, and for now even the details where the clichéd devil resides, did he actually serve this cause through his India visit? No. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
(This article represents my personal view alone and PTH as a body does not own or disown it. Unlike some other self styled “liberal” websites which excel in Mcarthyite Neo-jiyalism, we like to present all points of view on this website.)
The violence that erupted in Karachi recently has once again prompted all and sundry to point fingers at MQM. Enough has been written against MQM and I am sure for good reason but there are always two sides to a story and it was that other side that I discovered on a recent trip to Karachi.
I am not an MQM apologist. My attempt is simply to present the other side of the story to balance out what I feel is a one-sided representation. As a lawyer I feel strongly about no body being condemned unheard. The tension between the Urdu speaking community and other groups in Karachi hit at the very root of our identity as Pakistanis. The Urdu speaking, mocked by our up-country liberals and conservatives alike as “Urdas” and “hindustoras”, are composed of many ethnicities united by common language and the historical narrative of partition and migration. The Urdu speaking are relatively secular, modern and integrated in the world. It was their hardwork and enterprise that made a mid-sized city in Sindh into a grand city of global significance. Continue reading