Usama Khilji, a young activist from Islamabad addresses his contemporaries in Pakistan
Dear Young Pakistani!
I understand how these times are testing of your patriotism, but let me tell you how these times are actually a golden opportunity for you to prove your worth, your love for the country, and desire for a better future.
You must have been hearing a lot about how Pakistani society has degenerated into moral chaos, how we as a nation are worthless ‘cockroaches’, and how we as a nation are deserving of calamities such as the catastrophic flood. These are all baseless generalizations that you as the youth should take up as challenges, and rather than accepting such fatalism, prove them wrong instead.
For those of you who were disheartened by the beating to death of two brothers in Sialkot by a mob, don’t be disheartened. Use this event to realize the importance of justice, the importance of rule of law. Many of you went out on the roads of different cities of Pakistan demanding justice to the deceased brothers. Excellent. Be involved. Stand up and question any wrong that you see happening around you. Refuse to consent to injustice; otherwise you are one of the spectators of the mob-justice scene in Sialkot. Continue reading
Filed under Activism, youth
National Public Radio’s The GT Road Blog
In an area of Pakistan that has become synonymous with Islamist militants, a mural on a wall speaks of the other side of ethnic Pashtun culture: “Welcome to the Northwest Frontier Province, the home of hospitality.”
The mural is out of date — the province was just renamed Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. And while the snarl of traffic at the entrance of Peshawar gives the impression of life humming normally, this thousand-year-old city is under siege.
It is the capital of the restive province and gateway to Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt. Suicide bombers have attacked the city nearly 40 times in the past 14 months. The famous market of the Old City is a favorite target — and is considered too dangerous to visit. Continue reading
By Nabiha Meher Shaikh
As someone constantly exposed to the so-called “youth” of this country, I do believe I have some insight and some valid criticism of the recent ban on facebook, which, ostensibly, has to do with blasphemous content.
Firstly, what is the “youth” of this country? And why are they lumped into a monolithic entity? Why is it assumed that they are all one and the same when their realities are different in many ways. To assume that our “youth” is living air-conditioned lives, constantly logged on to the internet, chatting away etc. is purely delusional. The truth is, the vast majority of the “youth” are very poor and cannot access websites. The “youth” is actually the majority of our population. And we are constantly trying to box them into holes on what they should be, what they should do, how they should think, how they should behave, killing off any diversity that exists… this has lead to an increase in intolerance which I have noticed in my less than three decades of existence, despite the fact that sensitivity towards women’s issues has increased as compared to my generation (I’m only talking about educated people here though. I do acknowledge that the ground realities for women have become even more horrific). Sounds contradictory? It’s not. Read on. It’s all connected to religion and wanting to desperately prove that their religion is not barbaric towards women, a criticism that has very valid roots since, let’s face it, the status of women in the Muslim world is far from decent. So even though I see an increase in gender sensitivity, I also see an increase in linear thinking, mostly intolerant, reeking of a severe persecution complex (“the world is out to get us and destabilise Islam!”), which is very, very dangerous. Continue reading
I was born into a Sunni Muslim family in a northern city in the UK. The city is home to a large Muslim minority from Pakistan. I come from an educated and broad minded family with middle of the road type of values. Religion was never really a huge issue but I did the usual cultural thing of learning how to read the Quran in Arabic till I was 10 years old.
At around the age of 14, I became interested in Islam and joined the Young Muslims UK. This was my first real exposure to practical Islam. We would attend camps and have weekly meetings usually to discuss the Quran and the Hadith of Muhammad. For all intents and purposes everything was going well and my family was happy that I had decided to take it upon my own back to learn about the religion of my ancestors. I remember walking two miles to a shop from school to hire Ahmed Deedat debates and shouting “Allah-hu-Akbar” whilst watching other less worthy opponents beaten to a pulp.
Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Citizens, culture, Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, Europe, human rights, India, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islamism, Pakistan, Philosophy, Religion, Rights, violence, war, Women, youth
The New York Times, Published April 20, 2010
By SABRINA TAVERNISE; Waqar Gillani contributed reporting.
April 21 (New York Times) — LAHORE, Pakistan – The professor was working in his office here on the campus of Pakistan’s largest university this month when members of an Islamic student group battered open the door, beat him with metal rods and bashed him over the head with a giant flower pot.
Iftikhar Baloch, an environmental science professor, had expelled members of the group for violent behavior. The retribution left him bloodied and nearly unconscious, and it united his fellow professors, who protested with a nearly three-week strike that ended Monday.
The attack and the anger it provoked have drawn attention to the student group, Islami Jamiat Talaba, whose morals police have for years terrorized this graceful, century-old institution by brandishing a chauvinistic form of Islam, teachers here say.
April 18, 2010
IN ALL the countries that I have travelled to to perform stand-up comedy – the US being a regular destination – I have never been held up or interrogated at customs. Or I hadn’t, until I arrived in Pakistan.
I spent six hours at Lahore customs, as I did not have a visa in my British passport to enter the country. The people who organised my gig had mistakenly assumed that because my parents were born in Pakistan and I, too, am brown, they would automatically let me in.
The customs officer asked: “Are you Pakistani?” Yes. “Where were you born?” England. “That makes you a foreigner.”
He looked through my passport, which is filled with US visas. He said: “Are you a spy?” No, I’m a stand-up comedian. “What’s that?” I tell jokes. “And will you be doing that in this country?” Yes. “Oh, is this the entertainment for the Taliban?” he asked, quite seriously. No, I replied. Continue reading
It’s morning in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s biggest province, and the country’s next generation is headed to school. But what children are finding when they get there is of increasing concern for those who want peace in Pakistan’s future.
For 12-year-old Fatma, school is an abandoned brickyard.
“I study at the Government Primary School in Lahore,” she explains. “I study English language, and I like it. There are no chairs. We have to sit on the ground. It’s a problem in the winter. When it rains, there is nowhere to sit.”
Filed under Economy, Education, Kerry Lugar Bill, Lahore, Pakistan, poverty, Punjab, Religion, Rural, Taliban, USA, youth