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: Society
by Aasem Bakhshi
Nadir Khan, the cobbler from Bajaur who sits at the corner of my street, carries the kind of iconic baggage usually associated with cobblers from Sufi folklore and mystic literature. His character inspires me, his sensibilities vex me and his paradoxes keep me engaged with mine.
Being well aware of each second he lives, Nadir Khan spends a quarter of the year with his family in village, another quarter busy earning on a footpath in this metropolis, and another in the way of Allah, as he finds it to be. My self proclaimed wisdom and religious pragmatism is forced to zilch in front of his embodied response to time. Continue reading
This article was originally published in Dawn. It makes a very interesting read and makes some extremely incisive points.
By Muhammad Waseem
In Pakistan, two dominant classes compete with each other for influence and privilege. One is the middle class, which provides the catchment area for the civil bureaucracy, technocrats, the military’s officer cadre and the business community. The other can be called, for lack of a better term, the political class that includes political entrepreneurs of various kinds at various levels, led by the landed and tribal elite. Continue reading
By Feroz Khan
Pakistanis are not ashamed of being secular but they are afraid of being seen as secular. The reason lies in the question of who made the mullah strong and powerful in Pakistan? It was the so-called western educated Pakistanis, who in hopes of retaining their hold on power repeatedly appeased the religious right. The failure of secularism in Pakistan is the faliure of its liberals, educated classes to define what secularism stands for and this failure paved the way for the religious right’s assendency to power.
From Objectives Resolution in 1949 to Z. A. Bhutto constitutionally declaring the Ahmedis as non-Muslims to Pervaiz Musharraf supporting the MMA into power, it was the educated, westernized, liberal Pakistanis who have historically helped the religious right into making Pakistan a theocratic state. The reality of secularism in Pakistan is that no government will support it, because all governments that come to power do so with the agreement, with the mullahs, that its duration in power is contingent upon allowing the religious right to define for what passes for Islam.
An average Pakistani will not support secularism, because he or she knows that their goverment will readily foresake them to the religious right just to stay in power. To be secular in Pakistan means to have access to powerful patrons and to the right centers of influence and above all else, to be privileged enough to be above the law. Those who have this access can be secular and those who cannot, are afraid because they know they have no protection against the fury of the mullah and hence, are afraid to be identified as secular.
Secularism in Pakistan will happen not because of a media revolution, but because laws are created and enforced that protect the rights of all the people irrespective their of wealth, and positions in society. Secularism comes from a sense of tolerance and tolerance comes when a citizen’s basic constitutional rights are secured from arbitary excesses of power and intimidation. The first step towards this would be to tear up the Objectives Resolution and the 1973 constitution and to create a new social contract that is based on the notions of a political, social and economic equality and not on the basis of a religious creed.
The question is: is Pakistan prepared to do this and if it is not, then all the talk of secularism in Pakistan will remain a mere rhetoric and no law passed, on the basis of religion can be ever be questioned and the end result of this will be perpetual injustice and intolerance and inequality for the majority of Pakistani citizens who were unlucky enough to be born on the margins of privilege and influnece in Pakistan
This is an intelligently argued article sent to us by Miss Kiran Rizvi. She rightly argues that laws are eventually an outcome of the peculiar circumstances of the prevalent time period. Therefore laws have to be judged in the context of those circumstances. This way of looking at the laws also makes it essential to rethink the current interpretation which is rooted in those times. Miss Kiran’s argument is that the spirit of Islam itself provides justification for reinterpretation of the laws, particularly those which pertain to women.
by Kiran Rizvi
Contrary to the popular belief Islam neither favors nor victimizes women. What I mean by this is that Islam doesn’t go out of its way to hurt or protect women because of their special status in the society. The current interpretation of Islamic laws is more consistent with the circumstances and laws prevalent in the 7th century Arabia. Therefore it affords the same treatment of compassion to ALL members of the society which are disadvantaged, such as slaves, orphans, women and seniors. However no special treatment is given to women outside the general category of the ‘disadvantaged’.
Feminists believe that Islamic laws are barbaric and demeaning to women. They site divorce laws, rape laws, bearing witness, wife-beating, unfair distribution of property and lack of autonomy to make decisions etc. to make their case. They are correct and incorrect at the same time. Islamic laws are a combination of tribal laws as they existed (and were well accepted in the society at the time) and some modifications brought out by Islam to steer these laws in favor of those who ended up holding the short end of the stick. It is not the “Islamic” portion of the tribal laws that is barbaric, but the “tribal” portion of the Islamic law! And yes, it is very hard to distinguish one from the other.
The debate on fake degrees has captured the middle class imagination of Pakistan’s mainstream media. True that lying and misrepresenting facts is not acceptable. Yet, discriminatory laws against the political elites are not kosher either. The debate on the issue remains sensationalist, purist and devoid of the larger context of Pakistan’s democratic history.
Each era of our existence has witnessed such campaigns. In the 1950s laws to screen out the corrupt politicians was launched with much fanfare. It was a clear tool for the unelected institutions to tame and manipulate the political class. In the 1960s such a process was institutionalized and Pakistan reeled under the ill-effects of authoritarianism leading to the break up of the country in 1971.
The establishment continued the policy throughout the 1980s and we witnessed the growth and proliferation of politicians who were absolutely wedded to the fortification of Pakistan as a national security state. In the 1990s, such games continued and we have cases from that decade which are yet to be adjudicated. The state as a whole has used these as bargaining chips. This is why the debate on NRO is complex and its moral simplification becomes a historical act in itself. Continue reading
And how it could become one.
By Pervez Hoodbhoy Himal South Asia, June 2010
Pakistan has been a state since 1947, but is still not a nation. More precisely, Pakistan is the name of a land and a people inside a certain geographical boundary that is still lacking the crucial components needed for nationhood: a strong common identity, mental make-up, a shared sense of history and common goals. The failure so far to create a cohesive national entity flows from inequalities of wealth and opportunity, absence of effective democracy and a dysfunctional legal system.
While it is true that most Punjabis think of themselves as Pakistani first and Punjabi second, this is not the case with the Baloch or Sindhis. Schools in Balochistan refuse to hoist Pakistan’s flag or sing its national anthem. Sindhis, meanwhile, accuse Punjabis of stealing their water, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) runs Karachi on strictly ethnic grounds, and in April the Pashtun of NWFP successfully had the province officially renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (against the wishes of other residents). In getting a job, caste and sect matters more than ability, and ethnic student groups wage pitched battles against each other on campuses throughout the country. Continue reading