The brutal assassination Salman Taseer has opened a can of worms in an already contiminated social landscape of Pakistan which is struggling with modernity in the second decade of the 21st century. The odious adulation over the extrimist security turned homicidal goon Qadri is as disturbing as it is, the media was also not far behind in scoring senesationalist ratings on the Taseer/Asia Bibi fiasco. Below are two clips from Mehat Bukhari’s show on Samaa TV where she interviewed the late Goverener on the 25th of November 2010. Observe the rabid antics of the above mentioned TV anchor and her uber-provocative assault on Mr Taseer. This is a fine point as any for the media faces to draw a line on their point scoring, foming behaviour and a call for the said TV anchor to take a fraction for inciting hate against Salman Taseer and pandering to the radical conservatives.
Category Archives: liberal Pakistan
Express Tribune: It has been rather disturbing to witness the way Sherry Rehman has been the latest target of the purists within the ruling PPP. For years, Sherry has represented the intellectual vigour within her party. From drafting of manifestoes to holding the important portfolios, she has been an articulate defender of the PPP and its government. Her decision to resign in the wake of the judges’ saga and media handling of the 2009 Lahore-Gujranwala Long March was a matter of democratic choice.
After her resignation, she did not defame her party leadership and continued to demonstrate her loyalty. She is now a victim of an unwise ban on PPP leaders and legislators preventing them from appearing on a particular television channel. Worse, she has been lumped with the other dissenters — Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi — whose politics is altogether different. Continue reading
(In wake of the national debate on ideology and textbooks, Mr. Raza Rumi, the founder and editor of Pakteahouse, recently asked me to revisit the issue of Jinnah’s secularism through a comprehensive blog-post. This blog post is written for PTH exclusively and may be reproduced by giving PTH credit.)
Many people (though not all) on all sides of the ideology divide in Pakistan take umbrage with the description of Mahomed Ali Jinnah – the anglicized founder of Pakistan- as a secular leader or a secularist. Islamists in Pakistan say that he wanted an Islamic state. Islamic modernists say he wanted a modern Islamic democratic state (whatever that means), some people from the left say he was a communalist who was not secular because he championed Muslim separatism (albeit only in the last 11 years of his life). All of these groups agree that if Jinnah had been secular, it would not have been necessary to make a separate state. All of them – unconvincingly and inaccurately- claim that those who lay claim to a secular Jinnah are basing it on a solitary speech of Jinnah made on 11 August 1947. A slightly different claim is made by the Wali Khan group- which is ideologically consistent if historically errant- which claims that Jinnah wanted a secular state and that his push for Pakistan was the result of British manipulation and divide and rule which made him utilize Islamist rhetoric for the creation of Pakistan. While respecting all these points of view, I disagree with all of them and through this article I will explain why. Continue reading
By Raza Habib Raja
Liberalism as a philosophy is more inward looking and therefore does not try to blame others for the follies of one’s own nation. Thus it takes a stark divergence from the conservative and ultranationalist philosophies who assume that identity cultivated on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or geographical location is always under threat from outside forces. Therefore liberalism’s natural thrust is towards self introspection and on fostering cooperation with the different ethnicities and nations. This orientation always bring it into conflict with the ultranationalists who often accuse liberals of being “unpatriotic”, soft and even traitor!
Pak Tea House is one of the liberal website in Pakistan and let me assure you such websites are rare. We are committed to cultivating a spirit of self introspection and are doing our bit to cultivate an atmosphere of tolerance and plurality. Another major objective of Pak Tea House is to promote goodwill towards the foreign countries and particularly those against whom the ultranationalists right-wingers have been whipping hatred and what we believe misunderstanding. India is our neighbour and is also an important stakeholder in this region. But more importantly India and Pakistan share a troublesome history (of course Pakistan is also partly guilty) starting from a violent partition and subsequent wars and proxy wars.
We at Pak Tea House firmly believe that the two neighbours should bury the hatchet and move forward. There are so many issues which are our common issues and we admit that our side has also been guilty of rumor mongering and a state sponsored cultivation of institutionalized hatred of India which was primarily done to ensure integrity of the state and to carve out justification of a large army. For these reasons we are constantly striving to cultivate a favourable image of India.
However, I regret to say that the behaviour of few (not all) of the Indian commentators is proving to be completely detrimental to our aim. These commentators are just spewing hatred and coming up with various ways to humiliate Pakistanis, which at least on this site as well as other liberal sites, are largely moderate. The liberal theme of self introspection actually becomes a counterproductive weapon as some of the Indian commentators use the self critical articles by liberal Pakistani authors as an opportunity to mock and ridicule.
Constant derogatory references to religion are being made. Personally I am not a religious guy but I understand that mocking someone’s religion is not a prudent thing to do. Religion is a part of everyone’s identity. Even Einstein, an atheist, started to proclaim himself as a Jew, when his coreligionists were hounded and prosecuted by the Nazi regime. Mocking Islam will only reinforce conservatism and religious fervour particularly when it is being mocked by those who do not share it.
Apart from this, constant and needless references to “failures” of Pakistan are made and “successes” of India are being touted. Articles about peace are mocked by touting about strength of India’s GDP. I vividly remember some comments boasting of 1.3 trillion dollar economy and being dismissive of any “peace” as India does not need Pakistan for economic purposes.
This kind of behaviour mirrors the Pakistani rightwing nonsense and in a twisted way strengthens it. After seeing the comments the Pakistani right wingers are often in a position to “justify” their nonsensical hate mongering against India.
Moreover just like Pakistani rightwing brigade which generally spins everything under the sun to levy the blame on RAW and CIA, these Indian right wingers also blame ISI for everything from Mao rebels to Mumbai attacks. Literally each one of them tries to project himself as a foreign policy expert and like a true arm chair theorist comes up with mind boggling spins.
This behaviour, while being obviously bigoted, also seriously undermines the efforts of Pakistani liberals and successfully paints them as “unpatriotic” in the eyes of normal Pakistanis. Obviously when articles about peace are being mocked in a humiliating tone, the peace makers end up appearing as weak and unpatriotic. The mocking comments become a weapon in the hands of Pakistani right wingers who end up having a citable evidence of Indian hatred.
Of course one can argue with the “freedom of speech” angle and say that since it is an open forum therefore anything should go. However, every privilege in this world comes with a responsibility. Freedom of speech is a privilege and comes up with a responsibility that it will be used with care and not for mocking as well as insulting others.
Yes freedom of speech has to prevail and it will prevail. But I can only request that it should be used in a mature manner. Those Indians who are desperate to settle scores of Mumbai attack, frankly Pak Tea House and for that matter any liberal website is not the place or the forum to do so!! If you think that Pakistanis are bigoted and deserve rebuke frankly there are so many Pakistani rightwing sites and your responses will be well placed there.
The massacre of Ahmadis in Lahore has once again exposed the inner fissures of our society. As if treating them like second class citizens was not enough, the attacks on their private space of worship has confirmed that militant Islamism is now an embedded reality. Those who have been denying the presence of Punjabi Taliban will have to construct another web of denial and disbelief. We saw signs of that after the fateful tragedy. Instead of constituting investigation teams and ensuring that all necessary leads are collated, senior officials of the Punjab government made a direct reference to RAW, the infamous Indian intelligence agency. Continue reading
Once again the terrorists have hit Lahore. But this time they have chosen the favourite target of the fundamentalists – the Ahmedis who were declared as non-Muslims in 1974. Two places of worship have been attacked and innocent people have died. This is unacceptable and outrageous. It means that the state policy of exclusion has finally turned the country into a nightmare – a polity where freedom to worship, profess religious orientation and expression is not only curtailed by simply denied.
The resolve of the Government and the Army must be now strengthened after these tragedies. We condemn the state excesses and also the this heinous act of terrorism.
It is almost surreal to see what is happening in Lahore – there is no law and order, no law enforcement worth its name and hapless citizens witnessing the crumbling of a society. It is time to wake up – complacency will not do.
We have to fight terror and the enemy within and not blame the external forces time and again.
As I write these lines, I am petrified as a very dear friend’s father is trapped in the Model Town mosque. may God protect him.
Updated at: 1437 PST, Friday, May 28, 2010
LAHORE: Firing incidents have been reported at religious places of Ahmadi sect in Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore on Friday.
Five people have been reported killed and 10 injured in the attack at Model Town mosque. Seven terrorists attacked Model Town mosque and police have arrested one of them.
TTP Punjab has claimed the responsibility for the attack, Geo News reported.
We are posting this piece in the ongoing debate on Facebook ban. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed here. Raza Rumi
On Wednesday 19th May 2010, the Lahore High Court, famous for acting as a “moral brigade” rather than judiciary, once again passed a strange order to ban Facebook across Pakistan on a petition of Muslim Lawyers Forum. The demand for blocking of the social media site came after it refused to remove certain pages displaying Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons.
This order was passed against the request of the government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority that controversial pages of Facebook were already being blocked and there was no reason to block entire social media website which has over 2 million Pakistani users.
Few months back Lahore High Court took suo-moto notice of album of a popular female singer and declared her songs to be ‘vulgar’. This was followed by Chief Justice Lahore High Court’s remarks that Hindus were financing the terrorism in Pakistan which attracted protests from Hindu minority of Pakistan. This mixing of religion in to matters of state is opposite to the judgment of the Bangladesh’s Supreme Court which imposed ban on religious parties to take part in politics. Continue reading