Tag Archives: Terroism

Speak Up!

2 Jun

Thousands took to the streets to protest against facebook and blasphemous content being published on it. On May 28th, 80 innocent Pakistanis were murdered in cold blood as they were peacefully praying in a house of worship. I wonder how many will take to the streets to protest this atrocity. I have a feeling that there will be few or maybe even none. There will be the usual round of condolences and demands for inquiries. But we know these are merely hollow promises. In Pakistan, little is accomplished without popular support and popular support does not lend its self to causes such as protection of minorities.
When we wanted the judiciary restored, we took to the streets and had it done. When we wanted facebook banned we took to the streets and had that done. But I have a feeling we don’t really want to protect the minorities in our country, so we’re going to let this one slide and stay inside. It’s ironic that we are willing to take to the streets for the sanctity of the name of the Prophet (PBUH) but not for any of his teachings. I am no religious scholar but what I remember from my poorly taught Islamiat classes in school, despite the poor fashion in which they were taught; the Prophet preached that it was a sin to harm innocent people.

Funeral Procession for the Victims of the Lahore Massacre

But somehow it doesn’t matter what happens to those that “we” don’t consider Muslims. While the phenomenon of terrorism is new, the problem of sectarian violence is not. We have harbored violent hatred and have not been afraid of expressing it since the establishment of Pakistan. We have massacred Shia’s, Ahmedi’s, Christians, Sikhs – you name it and we’ve attacked it! We are so caught up in some billowing self-righteous rage that we have become blind to the teachings of the religion that we profess to love and in whose name we commit all of these sins.
But these really aren’t Muslims some would say. And some would cite the teachings of popular television anchors who consider these people, particularly, the Ahmadi’s wajib-ul-qatl. But from what I remember, The Prophet (PBUH) preached, that even in times of War, those who do not pick up arms, should not be harmed; particularly women and children. But innocent children were slaughtered in this rampage in the name of Islam. The old and infirm suffered frightened and tortured deaths, while they were busy in worship. This is not the Islam that the holy Prophet (PBUH) preached. The senseless and unprovoked murder of innocent citizens is not condoned by Islam.
The people that were murdered were peaceful, tax paying, law abiding citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the state, under the constitution and religious doctrine, to provide security to those citizens who despite adhering to different religions, pay taxes and abide by the laws of the land. But instead of providing protection to these people, we let television programs go on air, where anchors are allowed to rally support for murdering innocent citizens. And in the wake of such hate filled media, innocent people are murdered. But we don’t care; we let the program continue being aired and we allow the hate mongering anchor to continue preaching in public. Not a word, a whisper or a whimper about this is heard. Because in our twisted world view, its ok to say whatever we want about any other religion or its followers. But when someone attacks our religion in any way shape or form, we are up in arms in a matter of minutes. We expect the world to show us nothing but respect while we show none of this to any other religion. We can laugh, joke, degrade and even attack and murder the followers of other religions without having our collective conscience even flinch. How did we become so hypocritical and irrational? How did we become so cruel?
With the deaths of 80 innocent Pakistanis, the lives of hundreds of families have changed forever. There is sorrow and heartache and fear in hundreds of Ahmadi homes tonight. But as the rest of Pakistan sleeps easy and TV anchors remain hypocritically silent, they forget that tomorrow this could be them. Through our collective silence, as we aid and abet a culture of intolerance and senseless killing, that one day might consume us too.  A famous poem sums up the dangers of being silent over injustice to others, with apologies to the original poet, if we were to adapt it to the Pakistani context, the poem would look like this:

                                                 In Pakistan, they came first for the Hindus and Sikhs,
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Hindu or Sikh
                                                                  Then they came for the Christians
                                                    And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Christian
                                                                  Then they came for the Ahmadis
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Ahmadi
                                                                     Then they came for the Shias
                                                        And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Shia
                                                                       And then they came for me
                                            And by that time, there was no one left to speak up.
 
This violence, intolerance and injustice must stop. And it must stop with the largest majority speaking up against it. For once, let’s stand up and show the world that we actually abide by the spirit of the religion that we profess to love and follow. Let us turn not far away, but towards the Holy Book and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) to learn that this kind of violence and hate is not tolerated in Islam. Haven’t we all suffered for years because of this violence and hatred? What good has it ever done to our country or the image of our religion? This senseless killing, violence and hate must stop. And it will not stop unless we demand that this be done. So speak up for those that are treated with injustice because if you don’t, tomorrow there will be no one left to speak for you either.

Published in The News June 3, 2010

 

Ban Hypocrisy

23 May

As a child I was told that God created human beings to be Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat–the greatest and best of all of God’s creations. And we were given this honour because, unlike in the case of other creatures, God gave us free will–the ability to choose between actions. He then gave us intellect and commanded us to acquire knowledge so that we could use the two in our exercising that free will.

As a Muslim, I hang my head in shame as we take to the streets to protest the inconsequential actions of a few. With intolerance, like injustice, already rampant in our society–and these are two of the things least liked by God and his Prophet (PBUH) – we are unworthy of the title of Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat. Now we have brought shame upon our nation and our religion through our irrational actions that defy but the gift of intellect and intelligence bestowed upon us by the Creator, as well as His commandments.

The protests across Pakistan demanding the ban on the social networking site Facebook defied reason and logic. It is true that the website contained material that was blasphemous and hurt the sentiments of many Muslims. Muslims across the world have the right to be upset by this and to protest against it. But asking for a ban is an action that not only defies logic but defeats the purpose.

Banning Facebook in Pakistan did little but make us a laughingstock in the world. A more effective way of protest would have been to use the same platform to counteract the offenders who started the mischief. And this effective action has been taken by thousands of Facebook users, who started protest groups and campaigns that were gaining visibility and registering the Muslim protest in a more meaningful way. Instead, we in Pakistan chose to impose a ban and then congratulate ourselves about it, as if we had accomplished some great feat.

Let’s analyse what we accomplished. We received bad press from around the world. We helped the rest of the world reconfirm their misguided belief that Muslims are reactionary and incapable of rational thought. We played right into the hands of those who wanted to provoke Muslims. We brought internet connectivity in our country to a near-halt, thereby hurting our own economy and hundreds of small-business owners who rely on Facebook and other social networking sites for their livelihood.

Oh, and did I mention we did not stop the blasphemy either?

Banning the website in Pakistan didn’t make the page go away from Facebook, although we did congratulate ourselves as if we had managed to put an end to it.

But this is not what hurt me most. What hurt most was that while our people and the media were out protesting against a website, we as a nation continued our endless descent into chaos. And as we continued to plummet from rock bottom to whatever is even lower than that, we chanted hollow slogans in the name of religion but paid no heed to its spirit or injunctions that could have been our salvation in these times of great despair.

Our political leaders claimed that they were willing to lay down their lives for the Prophet (PBUH). I found it ironic that they issued such statements when they paid no heed to–in fact, showed great disregard for–all of the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings and the commandments of God.

We continue to lie, cheat and steal. Bribery and corruption are rampant across the country, yet these don’t seem to cause even a facial muscle to twitch in the political leadership. Last I checked, these were also considered sins in Islam. There is violence and oppression against the innocent. Last I checked, these were banned in Islam.

I remember the chilling story of the massacre at Gojra, when innocent Christians–men women and children–were brutally slain in the name of religion. There wasn’t a peep from these defenders of the faith who now protest so loudly. Last I checked, the Prohpet (PBUH) through both his actions and words had forbidden any harm to come to those who are innocent, regardless of their religion. And while the champions of Islam protested against Facebook, policeman near Wah illegally held a young girl child for 21 days and brutally raped her. Who stood up to protest the atrocity against this innocent child?

The Prophet (PBUH) merely turned away from those who not just criticised him but protested violently against him. He chose to reason, persuade and convince, rather than to incite violence his opponents. After the conquest of Mecca, he pardoned even those who had plotted against his life. Such was his attitude of mercy, peace, justice and reason.

On the contrary, great was his intolerance for injustice and oppression of the weak. It’s a pity that those who claim to defend the honour of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) have learnt so little from his example. With their hollow words, they incite violence among misguided and unemployed youths of the country. They disregard the spirit of our religion and its teaching. They lobby for political gain under the guise of Islam.

They seek to gain popularity by using the name of religion, although they do so little to act upon what religion commands. They choose the injunctions of God that suit their political motives, disregarding the others. To me this reeks of hypocrisy. And last I checked, hypocrisy was also a sin in Islam. So could we try and ban hypocrisy instead of Facebook? That might be better for our country and really please God.

The writer is a student of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, working for a master’s degree in public policy. Email: tell.sehar@gmail .com and www.sehartariq.wordpress.com 

Published in The News, May 23, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=240839

Can We Ban Hypocrisy Instead of Facebook, Please?

21 May

The Jamaat-e-Islami is the main political party that is organizing anti-facebook protests in Pakistan. It was in large part due to their efforts that the issue of the “everybody draw muhammad day” got visibity and facebook eventually got banned. The Jamaat has a history of being a very disciplined political party and effective organizer of street protests.

The women’s wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, organized a large rally in Lahore about this and scores of women and children carrying posters and Jamaat flags attended the event. They even made ripples on the international media scene and the associated press and reuters carried coverage of these protests which the Jamaat proudly displays on its website. In these videos you see an angry mob of protestors chanting slogans and there are interviews with articulate and very forceful women who issue “warnings” to facebook to  be prepared for the wrath of the Muslim world.

The videos just made me sad. I wanted to shake this woman, who was the protest leader,  and ask her if she knew of any other Muslim country protesting in this manner. But more than that reasonable argument, I wanted to ask her if she had heard about the young girl near Wah who had been detained illegally and raped by police officers for 21 days. Was she aware of the misery that this child had suffered? Did she care? Would she raise her voice for that child?

She probably wouldnt. Probably no one from the Jamaat would. A quick visit to the website of the Jamaat will show you ban facebook logos and news plastered all over it. You will see a ton of anti america rhetoric but no mention of or outrage at the ills that plague our society. Ironic.

And as any student of Islamic history would know, that had the Prophet (PBUH) been in a sitaution like this would undoutedly have stood up to demand justice for the young girl so creully treated before he demanded revenge or retribution for the actions of a frivolous few. Instead of making a fuss about his detractors, he would have fought for ridding our land of the injustice where the guardiuans of the law are its worst abusers.

Our Prophet (PBUH) the wisest of all men taught us, through his own example, to stand up against hypocrisy and injustice. It is amazing to me that we and the Jamaat in particular are willing to die in the name of the Prophet but are not willing to organize a single protest or rally or even a statement of codemnation for this heinous act and the countless others that are so frequent in our land and would undoubtedly have been whole heartefly condemned and probably abhirred by our Prophet (PBUH).

To me this sounds like hypocrisy. And from what little I know of my religion, hypocrisy is a sin.

I Want My Country Back

6 Apr

Eight years ago I boarded a plane to the United States to come to college. I was 17. As I left, my father hugged me and told me to never come back because he believed that soon Pakistan would not be a country fit for me to live in. I told him he was trying to save money by not having to buy me tickets to come home. We laughed it off. I hugged him goodbye and that day my father and I began our great debate about the fate of Pakistan. Abba told me to stay away. I defied him every time. I came home twice a year. I only flew PIA. I refused to do an internship in the US I worked every summer in Pakistan. I moved back when college ended. I started work in Pakistan. I worked two jobs because there was so much to do and not enough time to do it in. I was inspired and energised. I was hopeful and optimistic.

Today I am neither. And I have lost the debate with my father about the fate of Pakistan. The Parliament by endorsing the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (NAR) has heralded the end of Pakistan as I knew and loved it. Today, the elected representatives of the people turned Pakistan into Talibanistan. Today we handed over a part of the country to them. I wonder how much longer before we surrender it all.

Today we legislated that a group of criminals would be in charge of governing and dispensing justice in a part of Pakistan according to their own obscurantist views. They have declared that the rulings of their courts will be supreme and no other court in the land can challenge them. They have also declared that their men that killed and maimed innocent civilians, waged war against the Pakistani army and blew up girls schools will be exempt from punishment under this law. A law that does not apply equally to all men and women is not worthy of being called a law. Hence today we legislated lawlessness.

What was most disturbing was the quiescence of the Parliament to this legislation. The utter lack of debate and questioning of this ridiculous legislation was appalling. The decision was not informed by any independent research or expert testimony, and to my knowledge none of the parliamentarians are authorities on matters of security, rule of law or regional conditions in Swat. This signals disturbing possibilities. Either our politicians are too afraid to stand up to criminals or maybe they don’t possess the foresight to gauge the national impact of this action. There is no hope for a country led by cowards or fools.

How can one be hopeful about the political future of a country where the will and the wisdom of politicians becomes hostage to the threats of barbarians? How can I be optimistic about a country where doyens of the media like Ansar Abbasi hear the collective silence of the parliamentarians as the resounding support of the people of Pakistan, but are deaf to the threats issued by the Taliban to anyone opposing the legislation? How can I feel secure in a country where the army, despite receiving the largest chunk of our resources, cannot defeat a bunch of thugs? How can I expect justice when there are different laws for different citizens, and I as a woman am a second class citizen? How can I be inspired by a country where there is no culture, no music, no art, no poetry and no innovative thought?

How can I be expected to return to a country where women are beaten and flogged publicly, where my daughters will not be allowed to go to school, where my sisters will die of common diseases because male doctors cannot see them? How can I be expected to call that country home that denies me the rights given me by my Constitution and religion? I refuse to live in a country where women like me are forced to rot behind the four walls of their homes and not allowed to use their education to benefit the nation. By endorsing the NAR and giving in to the Taliban, Parliament has sapped my hope and optimism. Parliament has dealt a deathly blow to the aspirations of the millions of young Pakistanis who struggle within and outside the country, fuelled by sheer patriotism, for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan.

When there is no hope, no optimism, no security, no justice, no education, no progress, no culture – there is no Pakistan. Maybe it is because I am the grandchild of immigrants who was raised on stories of hope, patriotism and sacrifice that even in this misery I cannot forget that Pakistan was created to protect the lives, property, culture and future of the Muslims of the Subcontinent. It was not established to be a safe haven for terrorists. We fought so that we could protect the culture of the Muslims of the Subcontinent, not so that we could import the culture of Saudi Arabia. Our ancestors laid down their lives so that the Muslims of the Subcontinent – both men and women – could live in a land free of prejudice, not so that they could be subjected to violent discrimination of the basis of sect and gender.

Maybe it’s because I’m competitive and I don’t want to lose the debate to my father, maybe I am afraid to lose the only home I have, or maybe because I love Pakistan too much to ever say goodbye – I hope we can remember the reasons why we made Pakistan, and I hope we can stand up to fight for them. I hope we can revive the spirit of national unity of 1947 and lock arms to battle the monster of the Taliban that threatens our existence. Talibanistan is an insult to my Pakistan. I want my country back. Pakistan Paaindabad!

The writer is pursuing a master’s at Princeton University. Earlier, she attended Yale University. Email: stariq @princeton.edu

Published in The News on Friday, April 17, 2009
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=172821

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