Friday, October 14, 2011

MOHAMMAD Ali Jinnah visualised the state of Pakistan as “a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent”. by Irfan Husain

Irfan Husain

MOHAMMAD Ali Jinnah visualised the state of Pakistan as “a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent”. by Irfan Husain

Sadly, he did not specify precisely which sect of Muslims he had in mind. Although a Shia himself, he did not have a sectarian bone in his body.

Indeed, he was secular to the core, and this was the philosophy he bequeathed to the state he had created virtually single-handedly. This was a bequest we tore up even before he was laid to rest.

So as we witness the ongoing massacre of Hazara Shias in Balochistan, we need to take a hard look at the monsters Pakistan has spawned over the years. Management gurus teach us that before we can solve a problem, we must first analyse it to gain a full understanding of the underlying causes.

But given the deep state of denial we prefer to stay in, we shy away from making the logical connection between cause and effect. When elaborating on his ‘two-nation theory’, Mr Jinnah was of the view that Muslims could not live side by side with Hindus in a united India as we were a different nation in terms of values and cultural norms.

This notion led to the partition of India in 1947, and even though millions of Muslims did not — or could not — make their way to the new state, Pakistan was born in a cataclysm of blood and fire. Almost immediately, the hard-line vision of Islam, espoused by Maulana Maududi and his Jamaat-i-Islami, became the ideology of large numbers of right-wing intellectuals and clerics.

However, it wasn’t until Zia seized power in 1977 that this literal strand of Islam became the official ideology of the state.

Some of the hard-line Sunni groups like the Sipah-i-Sahaba came into being in Zia’s period, declaring Shias to be ‘wajib-ul qatal’, or deserving of death. Needless to say, these killers were permitted to thrive by Zia.

Step by step, the notion of separateness at the heart of Partition has fostered a feeling of ‘us against them’. Taken to its illogical extreme by hard-line ideologues and their brainwashed followers, this translates into the belief that those not following their particular school of Islamic thought become ‘wajib-ul qatal’.

Massacres and individual murders resulting from rabid intolerance bearing the spurious stamp of religious orthodoxy are too numerous to cite here. But the recent episodes of the cold-blooded slaughter of Hazara Shias in Balochistan should open the eyes of those wishing to negotiate with the terrorists responsible for these acts.

Another hard-line, anti-Shia group, the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, was quick to claim responsibility for these murders, and yet the state has done nothing to bring this organisation to book.

According to a Human Rights Watch press release, “In Balochistan, some Sunni extremist groups are widely viewed as allies of the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies and the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which are responsible for security there.

Instead of perpetrating abuses in Balochistan against its political opponents, the military should be safeguarding the lives of members of vulnerable communities under attack from extremist groups”.

But it’s not just in Pakistan that Hazara Shias have been targeted: in Afghanistan, thousands have been killed by the Taliban.

Being a visible ethnic group, they are especially vulnerable to an increasingly vicious and violent Sunni majority. In a blog on this newspaper’s website, Murtaza Haider has cited a revealing doctoral thesis by Syed Ejaz Hussain. According to his research, 90 per cent of all those arrested for committing terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 1990 and 2009 were Sunni Deobandis.

And it’s not just Shias who are being targeted, or Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis: as we have seen time and again, suicide attacks against mosques and Sufi shrines have killed thousands of Sunnis as well. While there are a growing number of extremist groups, they are all united in their intolerance, and their contempt for democratic values and common decency.

Despite the evil these killers represent, there are growing voices in Pakistan demanding that the government negotiate with them. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban was quoted recently as saying his group would talk to the government provided it broke off its relationship with the United States and imposed Sharia law in the country.

For a criminal gang to make such demands is preposterous; but for sane, educated Pakistanis to advocate talks with such people is even worse. Instead of insisting that we lock up these terrorists and try them, we are being asked to treat them as a political entity with valid demands.

If we are to ever defeat the hydra-headed monster we have created, our defence establishment will have to acknowledge its huge error in thinking that it could use these killers to further its agenda in Afghanistan and Kashmir. This has provided them with legitimacy, support and impunity. Unless the Pakistani state repudiates all links with extremism in all its forms, outfits like the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi will continue to murder at will within Pakistan, while the Lashkar-e-Taiba creates mayhem in our neighbourhood.

Quite apart from the collapse of the writ of the state caused by the depredations of these groups, and the innocent lives sacrificed at the altar of misplaced expediency, Pakistan has become a pariah in the international community. Increasingly, the use of terrorism as an instrument of policy is making us a scary country with a powerful death wish.

But while we struggle to cope with the rising tide of extremism, we need to step back and examine how and why we arrived at this abyss.

Clearly, it did not happen overnight. Looking back, we can see that the demand for separate electorates for Muslims in British India over 100 years ago was a major historical fork in the road. By conceding to this demand from a group of Muslim aristocrats as part of their divide-and-rule policy, the British tried to ensure that the two major religious communities would not unite against them.

However, we do not have the luxury of blaming our predicament on past imperial policies. The British are long gone, and the barbarians are poised to capture the state. We still have a choice, but if we don’t act quickly, we risk joining the ranks of failed states like Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Eye on persecution: Ahmadiyya mosque creed desecrated, community threatened by police

Eye on persecution: Ahmadiyya mosque creed desecrated, community threatened by police


Eye on persecution: Ahmadiyya mosque creed desecrated, community threatened by police
The demand to erase the Kalima (Islamic creed) from the Ahmadiyya mosque was issued by the Islamist extremist clerics of the area and the local police personal answered the call to “avoid a law and order situation,”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: AMC Persecution report
By Imran Jattala | October 13, 2011

An “unfriendly visit of a government official” was paid to the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community on the outskirts of Vehari, a city in the Punjab, Pakistan.

The conditions for the members of the Ahmadiyya community have further deteriorated in the area where police personal are now in cahutes with the local Islamist extremists, Ahmadiyya Times has learned.

According to a report issued by the public affairs office of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Pakistan, the police personal took it upon themselves to deface an Ahmadiyya mosque in Chak 245/EB, a few weeks ago.

The demand to erase the Kalima (Islamic creed) from the Ahmadiyya mosque was issued by the Islamist extremist clerics of the area and the local police personal answered the call to “avoid a law and order situation,” it was claimed.

“These mullas are now planning the same for some other Ahmadiyya mosques in the district,” the Ahmadiyya community has learned.

According to the report, an ASI (Assistant Sub-Inspector) Police from the Special Branch visited Chak 363/EB recently.

The police official’s visit was a cause of intimidation and concern for the members of the Ahmadiyya community.

“He inquired as to when the Kalima and the verse were written in the mosque,” it was reported.

Ahmadis told the ASI that the contents were written long ago, when the mosque was first constructed.

The police officer warned Ahmadis that local clerics were holding meetings about the Kalima in their mosque and there is a fear of public uproar.

It is often the practice of the law enforcement agencies in the Punjab that instead of assuring protection and safety, the police official would warn the community to be ready for ‘anything’ as a result.

-- Eye on persecution: Ahmadiyya mosque desecrated, community threatened by police
-- By Imran Jattala
-- By Imran Jattala. Follow on Twitter: @IJattala

Pakistan: Intolerance in the curriculum

Pakistan: Intolerance in the curriculum


Pakistan: Intolerance in the curriculum
Just a few days ago, 10 Ahmadi children, seven of them girls, were expelled from a school in the Hafizabad area, simply on the basis of their religious identity. The incident took place soon after preachers promoting anti-Ahmadism had visited the town and lashed out with familiar vitriol against a religious group that has been thrust out of the mainstream and then subjected to years of vicious discrimination.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: The News | Pakistan
By Kamila Hyat | October 13, 2011

There have been several shocking incidents over the past week or so that go only to highlight the kind of intolerance we are facing in our society and the manner in which this is spreading. Worst of all the spirit of hatred has also seeped into classrooms, and is being used to poison the minds of children.

This process will of course lead to the emergence, even before our watching eyes, of yet another generation persuaded that it is acceptable to discriminate on the basis of beliefs or other factors, or that minority groups are inherently inferior to the majority – deserving no place in mainstream society.

Just a few days ago, 10 Ahmadi children, seven of them girls, were expelled from a school in the Hafizabad area, simply on the basis of their religious identity. The incident took place soon after preachers promoting anti-Ahmadism had visited the town and lashed out with familiar vitriol against a religious group that has been thrust out of the mainstream and then subjected to years of vicious discrimination.

The feeble plea by the principal of the private school, that he did not wish to turn away the children from the school doors but had no choice in the face of threats made by villagers, just goes to show how weak we have become.

No one has answered the question of the distraught father of three of the girls driven away from school who asks how his daughters will now receive an education. Beyond the representatives of the Ahmadi community in Rabwah and some human rights groups, no one has spoken out in their support.

The issue has not been discussed by furious media anchors, even though the Constitution of our land lays down in unequivocal terms that every citizen has a right to education and cannot be denied this under any circumstances.

Such silence is perhaps the most dangerous element of all. The streets and other public places have been left to bigots, such as those who have been on the streets demanding the immediate release of Mumtaz Qadri, the man sentenced to death for the murder of Salmaan Taseer.

Precisely the same silence prevailed after yet another horrendous incident at a school a few weeks ago when an eighth-grade Christian girl was turned out of a POF-run school in the town of Havelian after making a minor spelling mistake in an Urdu paper.

Her teacher interpreted the mistake as an act of blasphemy, publicised the matter – which essentially revolved around one dot in a paragraph about a ‘naat’ – and as clerics staged protests the powerful POF management chose not only to expel the girl, but also to transfer her mother, a nurse at a hospital.

Such incidents have occurred elsewhere too. Ahmadi children have been punished in schools, their faith ridiculed and admission denied simply on the basis of their religious beliefs. Amidst all this, we talk of ‘the silent majority’. But do we really know what people believe and think?

It is true that many, indeed most, do not agree with the rabid views of the extremists. We would like to believe this is true. But popular thinking has been warped over the years by all kinds of factors that began essentially with the deliberate and evil distortions initiated in the early 1980s when our society first began its most serious transformation into an uglier, nastier place.

Discrimination is not based on religious beliefs alone. At an elite Lahore private school, a child from a different ethnic background was mocked and subjected to continuous ridicule for his appearance. It seems that the school management didn’t do very much to check this behaviour or persuade the majority of students who had resorted to uncivilised conduct towards the student to correct their ways.

Racism and bigotry of course need to be stopped using some degree of force within an environment in which the two have spread quite far and grown deep roots. African students based in colleges in Lahore and other cities will no doubt testify to the kind of treatment they face, solely on the basis of their skin colour.

One question that we all need to ask is why the government sits by as a silent spectator while all this happens. It needs to play a far more proactive role. We stand where we are today as a result of carefully thought out behaviours and policies put in place in the past. They succeeded in twisting minds and creating an atmosphere in which hatred, distrust and intolerence could blossom.

The need now is to begin an immediate reversal of this process. In the first place, the relevant authorities need to take notice of the instances of expulsion from schools on the basis of open and undisguised discrimination; this would put in place a good example of what should be done and where right separates from wrong, like oil from water.

There is no time to lose. It is quite obvious that things are growing worse and worse virtually by the day. Our only hope for the future lies in nurturing a generation that is able to think more openly and adopt an approach which is different to the destructive one that has become a normal part of our society today.

The provision that all citizens are equal needs to be turned into reality and not just a clause in a document that fewer and fewer people seem to be very bothered about.

How do we begin this? Schools are a good place to start. Government schools are perhaps the best, given the number of children attending them and the control the administration should have over them. Through curriculums and training for teachers, both children and those entrusted with the delicate task of educating them need to learn to think differently.

This is not an easy task of course. But it has been done elsewhere; Ireland, where Protestants and Catholics were deeply divided in the north for so many years, is one example where attempts towards greater harmony through schools have met with some success.

There are other examples in the world. We need to emulate them and move towards building a place where people are ready to speak out for what is right and refuse to allow extremist elements – who attempt to validate their intolerant ways by citing a distorted version of religion – to dictate how we live and what we do.

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor. Email:

Read original post here: Pakistan: Intolerance in the curriculum

An Ahmadi Muslim's Plea: Be My Voice

An Ahmadi Muslim's Plea: Be My Voice


An Ahmadi Muslim's Plea: Be My Voice
Unlike the general blasphemy laws, however, the specific anti-Ahmadi Muslim laws of Pakistan have not found even this much of luck. They have been conveniently forced out of the discussion and few are aware of the existence and continuous abuse of these draconian laws.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: The Huffington Post
By Kashif N. Chaudhry | October 10, 2011

Religious freedom (or the lack thereof) in Pakistan cannot be emphasized enough. Due to the preposterous demeanor of Pakistan's self-righteous right-wing, many in the world today are aware of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy problem. Much frustration has been expressed on liberal Pakistani blogs and through international media outlets -- especially after the heartless murders of Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti -- on the abuse of these laws. Even though nothing is expected to change anytime soon, at least the first vital step toward that goal is being taken: raising awareness.

Unlike the general blasphemy laws, however, the specific anti-Ahmadi Muslim laws of Pakistan have not found even this much of luck. They have been conveniently forced out of the discussion and few are aware of the existence and continuous abuse of these draconian laws. The silence of the liberal Pakistani blogosphere and the international media in this regard is baffling.

So who are the Ahmadi Muslims and what are these laws?

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), who claimed to be the long-awaited messiah. Ahmad single-handedly waged a struggle to bring about a renaissance of Islam. He declared that in this age the doctrine of violent jihad was against the teachings of Islam, a declaration met with edicts of heresy. Ahmad urged Muslims to emulate Prophet Muhammad's example. Accordingly, Ahmadi Muslims champion a complete separation of mosque and state, promote universal human rights and interfaith dialogue and practice nonviolence and non-retaliation amid brutal persecution in parts of the world. There are more than 600,000 Ahmadi Muslims living in Pakistan with tens of millions in 200 countries.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA -- the oldest Islamic-American organization -- has helped foster the Islamic ideals of peace and loyalty to nation through its Muslims for Peace and Muslims for Loyalty campaigns, respectively. It recently launched the nationwide Muslims for Life blood drive campaign to commemorate 9/11 and demonstrate Islam's emphasis on sanctity of life. The Community's charity organization, Humanity First, has been at the forefront of disaster relief both nationally and worldwide. Help, for instance, continues to be dispensed to the victims of Hurricane Katrina to date. Ahmadi Muslims have a central leadership, the Khalifa.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Muslim clerics perceived the rapid spread of the Community in its early days as a threat. Having failed to defeat them through reason and discourse, they took to sticks and stones -- literally.

After the formation of Pakistan, anti-Ahmadi Muslim groups organized to conspire and instigate massive nationwide riots. Friday sermons became an opportunity to spew venom against the Ahmadi Muslims. They were declared "apostates" and "worthy of being killed." Extremist right-wing influence ushered in violent street protests. The State succumbed to their pressure tactics and declared the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be non-Muslim in 1974. In April of 1984, Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq issued Ordinance XX. Zia was a military dictator who had taken over the country after a coup d'état in 1977. To legitimize his autocracy, he assumed de facto leadership of Pakistan's extremist cause. Because the hatred and violence had failed to halt the progress of the Ahmadi Muslims, he decided to use force.

Under the new laws, Ahmadi Muslims were arrested for using Islamic terminology. For example, saying the Salaam (greeting of peace) meant imprisonment. Thousands of Ahmadi Muslims filled jails across the country. On one side of prison sat rapists and murderers and on the other sat those who invoked peace on a passerby. The right-wing went on to demand the death penalty. Zia conceded and introduced the death penalty for propagation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and distribution of Ahmadi Muslim literature.

These barbaric anti-Ahmadi Muslim laws exist to date. Hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims remain behind bars in Pakistan -- and hundreds have been killed.

These vicious laws are a threat to international religious freedom. They continue to embolden religious extremists in other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia where similar demands to outlaw the peaceful Ahmadi Muslims have been put before the governments. In the case of the latter, these demands have been accepted in part, setting in a fresh wave of violence (caution: graphic). Because the hatred against the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan was promoted and not checked by the State, it continues to be exported as far out as the U.K.

Pakistani and International media make no mention of this dangerous state-sanctioned violation of religious freedom and basic human rights. Despite the fact that Pakistan's anti-Ahmadi Muslim laws are a blatant breach of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there has been no outcry from the United Nations either.

United States' foreign policy recognizes religious freedom worldwide as one of its goals. While the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims gained momentum under Zia, the United States -- a close ally -- was busy funding his government and supporting the Afghan revolution. The plight of the Ahmadi Muslims went unnoticed. Three decades later, it is very encouraging that the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2010 on Pakistan takes serious exception to Pakistan's anti-Ahmadi Muslim laws. Much, however, needs to be done to effect a change on ground. I am hopeful that as a primary supporter of international religious freedom, the U.S. will continue to play a positive role to this end.

Meanwhile, please join me in doing the least we can do: take that first step toward change: raise awareness.

Follow Kashif N. Chaudhry on Twitter:

Read original post here: An Ahmadi Muslim's Plea: Be My Voice


Pakistan: State-supported anti-Ahmadiyya agitation in Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Choudhry Abdul Majeed, the prime minister of AJ&K, recently visited a religious madrasa at Faizpur and made uncalled for remarks against the Ahmadiyya community, it was reported in the media.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: AMC Persecution report
Edited by Imran Jattala | October 12, 2011

AJ&K: Although a new government has taken over after the general elections, the sectarian and extremist elements have not only maintained their agitation against the Ahmadiyya community but also have raised its level to a threatening point.

The anti-Ahmadiyya agitations take place with the collusion of ruling politicians.

Choudhry Abdul Majeed, the prime minister of AJ&K, recently visited a religious madrasa at Faizpur and made inappropriate remarks against the Ahmadiyya community, the media reported.

"Qadianis’ activities will be watched in Azad Kashmir – Ch. Abdul Majeed," the headline read in the daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Rawalpindi, on September 9, 2011.

“Muslim children should never be taught by Qadiani teachers (in public schools)," said Mulla Atiq-ur-Rehman, a member of the legislative assembly (MLA), who runs the Islamic madrasa, it was reported on the same occasion..

"Qadianis can exist here only as a non Muslim minority. … They are not allowed to practice Islam. (etc),” Mulla Atiq-ur-Rehman further said according to the newspaper report.

The Director of Public Affairs in the Ahmadiyya head office at Rabwah, Mr. Saleem-ud Din, strongly condemed the incident and sent letters of complaint to the President of Pakistan and to the President of Azad Kashmir.

"For some time now there has been increase in organized anti-Ahmadiyya activities in Azad Kashmir," the complant letter stated.

"...these elements have been patronized by the government of Azad Kashmir," Mr. Mr. Saleem-ud Din said.

"Ch. Abdul Majeed the prime minister of AJ&K and Pir Atiq ur Rehman, member of the AJ&K Assembly and President of Jamiat Ulama Jammu and Kashmir are in the lead of such activities in public rallies," the complaint included.

Most Muslim clerics feel free in Pakistan to issue edicts declaring anyone Wajib-ul-Qatl (must be put to death).

There are no laws against such declarations and hate incitements and many Wajib-ul-Qatl edicts are often followed up by target killings.

While Ahmadis are the usual victims of this violent indiscretion, non-Ahmadis also are targeted.

Governor Salman Taseer was was one such victom in recent past.

-- Ahmadiyya Times
-- By Imran Jattala. Follow on twitter @IJattala

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