Christ of Saint John of Cross  :  Salvador Dali

“Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?’ And they all condemned him to be deserving of death.”

Mark 14:63–64

Jesus of Nazareth was convicted by Sanhedrin, the Jewish priest court for the crime of Blasphemy. Today he is God of largest section of humanity.

Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were murdered for the crime of Blasphemy—-

Shaheryar Ali

 

 

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Shaheryar Ali

Some Theoretical Considerations: Death of Pluralism

“The article is intended to be the theoretical first part of a series of article on the suppressed cultural identities[A Pakistan you never knew] in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, One on the fate of Pakistani Jews has already been published and can be reached here

A couple of years back I was reading a research report by a very intelligent Pakistani academic who works for the International Crisis Group, Dr Samina Ahmed on the rise of sectarianism in Pakistan. Being trained in the progressive tradition myself I was familiar with the theoretical framework in which Dr Ahmed operates, state and its origin, adaptation of an ideological character by the state, cold war and Jihad etc. What strike me and infact fascinated me was a passing remark by her on working ideology of all sectarian groups of Pakistan, she wrote they all operated on the “principle of exclusion

This was a remarkable observation if one wants to understand the ideology of sectarianism and a sectarian state. States are not just material institutions of economy and violence, state has an ideological aspect as well. Structures of the state create a significant influence on super structures of the society on which it is maintaining control. That means through different ideological institutions, states create culture and patterns of thoughts which help the state to keep control [Gramsci and Althusser]. It has been explained as a mental condition in which a slave thinks and takes his slavery to be a state of “freedom”. This intervention into ideology or the “ways of thinking” became the obsession of western Marxists who were trying to understand failure of revolutions in the Western Europe. A series of whole new disciplines emerged like critical theory and cultural studies which focused on the ideological and cultural aspects of state and/or capitalism

As postmodernism became more influential in universities of Europe and North America, the critique was extended to a similar analysis of “reality” [Baudrillard] and alterations in human perceptions by Capitalism and state/super state. The ideological foundations of Pakistan state [not to be confused with official “Pakistan ideology”] lie in the communal/nationalist strife [Saigol,Rubina] which presumed an “absolute difference” between Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah put forward an argument which utilized “cultural difference” as base of civilization, which differentiated Indian Muslim from Indian Hindus with whom he shared same ethnicity and language [Bengali speaking muslim became part of a different civilization and nation than Bengali speaking Hindu from whom he originated in the first place through conversion]. Hindu and Muslim emerged as grand identities which were rhetorical in entity as demonstrated by the work of great Indian historian Romila Thaper, that before British Colonialism term Hindu or Muslim were rather meaningless in the sense that they didn’t constructed a unified socio-political identity. With the professed anti-clericalism and modernism of founding fathers of Pakistan, ideological intervention became all the more important and a unified cultural umbrella needed to be constructed to legitimize the claim of “distinct civilization”. This logically meant to suppress the ethnic, national and indigenous identities to construct the “Muslim identity” only through which survival of Pakistan was envisioned.

JinnahA study of discourse emerging from ruling elite of Pakistan, the PML and colonial administration which they inherited from Colonial administration suggest an obsession with monism themes as opposed to pluralism. Jinnah’s slogan of “Unity, Faith and Discipline” itself speaks of need to “unify and control”. The slogan relates more to ideologies of totalitarian regimes of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany than to the Liberal tradition of Western Europe to which Jinnah is said to be trained in. Ethnic identities became the “others” of Muslim identity and as a result an existential threat the new state. The question of national rights was diverted by Jinnah’s stern warning against the “evil of provincialism”, the need to construct a “unified culture” so strong that a man as modern as Jinnah who took up the case of muslim socio-cultural rights in India, stood in Dacca and thundered “Urdu Urdu and only Urdu!” a language which was not the language of even 0.2% of Pakistanis at the time Those who demanded an equal status of Bengali along side Urdu were to called traitors and communists. After Jinnah’s death things became worse and PML which lacked any popular base in East and West Pakistan joined hands with Clerics and Islamic Fundamentalists whom Jinnah thoroughly despised. Jinnah’s handpicked Prime Minister Nawabzada Khan Liaqat Ali Khan, a member of feudal aristocracy passed the Objectives Resolution and state acquired an ideological character.

The ideological apparatuses of the state in form of media, mosques,

174_NpAdvHover

Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung

universities and colleges started molding the minds of people. Considering one to be a Bengali or Punjabi was something like treason, same was the case with being Muslim. In British India Muslim was a broader and loose cultural identity which related more to practice of circumcision and burial of dead as opposed to cremation. Different sects of muslims existed and considered their sect to be true version of Islam but due to neutrality of the state didn’t operated on the “principle of exclusion”. The party which took up the issues of muslim socio-political and cultural rights in British India, the All India Muslim League comprised of “muslims” which were distinguishable by their heterodoxy not their orthodoxy. Sir Aga Khan was the president of All India Muslim League who was the Imam of Ismilies which were engaged in a bloody struggle against Sunni and Twelver Shias for more than 1000 years and who were considered “apostates” by clerics of both mainstream sects. Muhammed Ali Jinnah also belong to the Ismaili faith but later converted to more mainstream Twelver Shia faith but was a non practicing muslim by all standards. Many important leaders like Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad were twelver Shias. Sir Zaferullah Khan was Ahmedi or Qadiani. Dr Allama Muhammed Iqbal was a revivalist who was opposed by Sunni orthodoxy and was rumored to be a Ahmedi as well the controversy ended when he denied these claims by writing an article in Statesmen condemning Ahmedi faith. [Controversy still exist weather he was Ahemdi for some part of his life and even after condemning Qadiani faith he considered Lahori group of this faith as part of muslim community]

Nawab Bahaduryar Jang another prominent leader of All India Muslim League belonged to “Mehdivia” sect. a sect similar to Ahmedies which considered pious saint Syed Muhammed Jonpuri as the Mehdi. Due to this heterodoxy and professed modernism of All India Muslim League the muslim clerics were bitterly against it. But this was to be changed when this movement was to end in formation of the “Muslim Homeland” [Not an intention of Jinnah according to some historians, most notably Dr Ayesha Jalal]. With the formation of Muslim homeland the question “Who is Muslim?” acquired a phenomenal character. Before partition as we have said earlier this question was not very relevant because of its oppositional character to the rival identity “The Hindu”. After partition of India on 15th August 1947 all this changed. Muslim identity lost its contrasting “other”, a “moth eaten Pakistan” meant that its founding fathers were already paranoid about its chances of survival; the land which they got was hub of forces which opposed partition of India. Punjab was firmly in grip of feudal, with which Jinnah forged an alliance to make Pakistan, the Unionist Party held power in Punjab. All India Muslim League lacked support and organization in Punjab, the “salariat” class which was motivating the struggle for Pakistan was weakest in Punjab [Alavi,Hamza]. NWFP the province of overwhelming muslim majority despite best efforts of Jinnah stood with Bacha Khan and Indian National Congress. The 1946 elections which were held to decide the issue of muslim representation saw defeat of Muslim League despite support from the British in the NWFP. In Bengal muslim league held popular base but it was due to independent minded progressive leaders whom the central leadership didn’t trusted, Hussein Shaheed Soherwardi, AK Fazel-e-Haq, Molana Bhashani all were to be purged along with all mass base! Jinnah had to lean heavily on “socialism”[He went as far as declaring Islamic Socialism to be guiding ideology of Pakistan in Chittagong] to gain currency in Benagal but his negotiations with the Americans in 1946 had already decided Pakistan’s future alignment with “Anti-socialist block”. Bengali was suppressed, NWFP government dismissed, the party banned and its news paper “Pakhtoon” suppressed [start of press censorship in Pakistan, all this happened in first year of Pakistan]. The party headquarter was bulldozed and police opened fired on unarmed party workers at Barbra killing hundreds of Pushtoons, this despite Bacha Khan’s oath of loyalty to Pakistan. In Sindh , GM Syed had already left Muslim League depriving it of much popularity, the loyal faction of  Sindh League was  also disenfranchised when Jinnah dismissed Sindh government as well when CM opposed  partition of Sindh [separating Karachi from Sindh] This would be the start of never ending Sindhi-Mohajir conflict. Balochistan had to be annexed by force when upper and lower houses of Parliament of State of Qalat explicitly rejected proposals to join Pakistan. Khan of Qalat signed the document of accession but wrote himself that he didn’t have the authority to do so.

All these events which took place in first years or couple of years after birth of Pakistan unfortunately counterpoised “Muslim identity” against the local identities which also represented political opposition to Pakistan’s ruling elite. It became a rule to suppress any expression of cultural identity other than the official “Muslim” one. This was to be what I call “death of Pluralism” in Pakistan. After deciding the fate of national identities, the project of defining “muslim” came on agenda. Death of Jinnah accelerated the process and state’s alliance with fascist theorist Abul ala Maudaudi emerged. He gave a series of lectures on Radio Pakistan on Muslim Nationalism. Objectives resolution was passed, later Anti Ahmedi agitation started, the anti clerical vanguard in state tried to give a final resistance to the clerics. Justice Munir’s report tried to put clerics at their place but it was too late. A unified and oppressive muslim identity emerged which put all heretical muslim sects in a continuous state of fear of being declared “apostates”. The irony of history is that with this most of the founding fathers of this country also joined the ranks of “apostates” All alternative cultural expression vanished from the country, the Hindus, the Jews, Homosexuals, Heretics, Nationalists all had to face “cultural Holocaust” After Ahmedies Shias were targeted and now Bravelies are trying to protect their “islam” from muslims

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Sir Zafrullah Khan

Guest Post From: Dawn Blog with thanks

The intensity of communal clashes in Gojra left a reporter fearing for his life.

‘I’ve never seen such mindboggling violence in my life,’ says Tariq Saeed, Dawn’s reporter from Toba Tek Singh. He was referring to the incident in Gojra, where several people were killed and scores were injured over the alleged desecration of the Quran earlier this month.

There has been considerable debate in the media about whether to describe the incident as a ‘riot’ between the Muslim majority and Christian minority communities. But Saeed clearly saw large groups of people out on the streets, thirsty for revenge and retribution.

‘When I reached Gojra on the night the incident took place, I found smoke billowing from several houses of the Christian community, though the fire had been put out in most places by then. There weren’t any Christian families in any of the houses as almost all of them had run away to nearby towns to stay with their friends and relatives,’ Saeed remembers.

‘But I did come across a large group of Muslim men, around 500 in number, who insisted, angrily I may add, that the desecration [of the holy Quran] did take place and that they had not made up the incident. They alleged that some members of the Christian community had torn pages and thrown them on the ground during a mehndi ceremony. They even showed copies of such pages to me which were indeed covered in mud. But when I suggested that these pages could also have been planted by a third person to stoke tension between the two communities, they reacted as if I had offended them and rudely asked me what kind of questions I was asking. In fact, at one point, their sentiments were so volatile that I felt threatened and feared that they might physically harm me if I continued with my probing questions.’

This was all very surprising to Saeed since he had been to Gojra several times before and had never felt unsafe there. In fact, it was also strange to him that there was strife between the two communities, when in the past they had lived peacefully side by side. ‘I’ve been to Gojra several times before this incident took place and never did I see such hostility between the Muslims and Christians living there.’ What was even more alarming to him was that the group of men he came across were not typical ‘mullah types,’ which one might expect given their extreme views. They were mostly clean-shaven young men between the ages of 15 and 35.

Despite the longstanding communal harmony in Gojra, Saeed acknowledges that the violent flare-up there was not entirely unexpected. Gojra has some of the most beautiful and historic churches in Pakistan with around 10,000 to 20,000 Christian inhabitants in the area. The importance of the town for the Christian community can be gauged from the fact that a bishop is also in residence. But, Saeed points out, Gojra has also always had a strong presence of the banned militant group, the Sipah-i-Sahaba, in the area. Indeed, one of the group’s leaders, Maulana Ahmed Ludhwani, hails from Toba Tek Singh.

The SS is suspected of being involved in the attack and is accused of instigating the local people against the Christian population. ‘Police sources say that members of the group had thrown chemicals on houses to spread the fire,’ says Saeed, adding that one of the local leaders, Qari Abdul Khaliq, has been held by authorities and reportedly tortured.

Saeed adds that the situation in Gojra is returning to normalcy, with both communities looking towards reconciliation. But for a reporter who has spent much time in this historic time, something has changed forever in the wake of violence. ‘The situation could deteriorate any time if the authorities don’t take appropriate steps to prevent such an occurrence in the future,’ he says.

Footnotes offers a weekly, behind-the-scenes look at the Dawn Media Group’s reporters on the job.

The views expressed in the following comments do not reflect the views of the Dawn Media Group.

Shaheryar Ali

Horrific reports coming from Gojra Punjab Pakistan, the Pakistani media maintained a criminal silence and blacked out the violence till People’s Party co-chairman and president of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari took strict notice of the Anti-Christian pogrom.

Gojra Violence

Gojra Violence

The banned sectarian organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, a violent criminal gang which calls itself “Army of Companions of Muhammed” was build by Pakistan’s secret agencies during period of General Zia-ul-Haq to create an Anti Shia mania in Pakistan to check the popular People’s Party whose leadership had Shia origins. The organization has been banned nominally but continue to work openly in Pakistan especially in Punjab where it enjoys government support.

Made up of ethnically Punjabi immigrants the organization which has its base in Sareiki speaking Southern Punjab, it is supported by the Lahore administration to terrorize the local seriki speaking landed aristocracy most of which is religiously Shia or Sufi minded Sunni-Barelvi sect and politically supporters of Pakistan Peoples Party. By creating ethnic and religious hatred the establishment keeps the popular demand of a separate Seriki province under control.

This organization was one of the first groups from Pakistan to join Al-Qaida, its various splinter groups are active with Taliban. It also participates in Afghan and Kashmir Jihad, one of the reasons for which it is protected by Pakistani establishmentAnotherhousetorchedbyMuslims

According to reports, this organization instigated violence using a mosque by alleging the blanket charges of desecration of Koran and blasphemy.

The Islamist organizations have frequently used these blanket charges to instigate violence. Almost every time these charges are false. No one has ever been convicted or punished in Pakistan after anti minority violence, the police, the courts and the government all are complicit in this evil tradition

The Right wing government of Punjab is continuously de-contextualizing the Islamic extremism problem in Punjab blaming the “mythological Indian-Jewish hand” in the terrorism. The anti minority organizations like Tehrik e Khatam e nabuat receives state funding to conduct its conferences by Shahbaz Sharif the latest darling of Pakistan’s pseudo secular intellectuals.

ImranTalibphotoWhen the violence started the police failed to protect the minorities, christian woman and children were burned alive. The mob refused to allow the fire brigade. During all this carnage Shahbaz Sharif’s police stood silent.

Latest reports suggest that Punjab police has refused to register cases against those who killed the innocent people. The christian protesters have blocked the railway line and refused to burry the dead till Punjab government registers the case.

It must be noted that chemical bombs were used by muslim mob to burn the christian houses. This technique has been mastered during burning of another Christian Village , Shanti Nager. The culprits never brought to justice.

Reacting to the fresh incident of violence against Pakistani Christians, Mr. Joseph Francis, the National Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLASS), has said that the July 30 attack on Christian residents of Korian has “reopened wounds” of Christians which they suffered in the wake of 1997 attack on Shantinagar, a Christian village, as well as it has brought back “tragic memories” of Muslim violence in Christian villages of Bhamniwala and Sangla Hill.

his is the fourth biggest blasphemy-related incident of violence in seven months of this year,” Mr. Francis said, and pointed out the Christians were being subjected to atrocities, whose ancestors “had polled a casting vote for the creation of Pakistan.”

It must be noted that Pakistani media fails to report these incidents objectively. Most of the time a black out is maintained. According to ANS news women and children were amongst those who were burned alive. 2 churches were desecrated and copies of Bible were also torn apart.

Its time that conscientious Pakistani should raise their voice against the evil right wing Punjab government and the Blasphemy laws .

When these atrocities were being committed ats of heroism were also being committed. Pakistani communist Shabir Ahmad of Labour Qomi Movement risked his life and saved many Christians when mob was burning their homes. we salute Comrade Ahmad and the communist movement of Pakistan.

The issue in covered here, here and here and please see my earlier articles here and here as well

Pic: Imran , teenager accused of Blasphemy


Thanks to Asif Ali Zardari’s intervention, the media black out of Anti Christian pogroms in Gojra has ended.  Shahbaz Sharif’s “great administrative skills” fully exposed. The law enforcing agencies which are now ordered to attend the monthly district meeting of PML-N through a written directive stood silently when muslim mob burned down 50 homes of Christians and looted 100 more. 9 Christians have been killed , more feared dead as the rubble is removed. It must be noted that the Muslim mob refused to allow the fire brigade to save burning human beings. The violence was instigated from a mosque  under control of a “banned” organization [Banned organizations enjoy state patronage in Islamic Republic especially the Islamic Republic of Sharifistan]. The violently bigoted pro Taliban Rana Sanaullah visited the area and i am sure like past he will see “Indian hand” behind it. Mr Sanaullah and govt of Punjab has seen Indian hand in almost all islamic terrorism.

The government of Punjab has systematically supported Jihadi and sectarian organization. Please raise your voice to save Pakistani Christians because the stalwarts of Jinnah’s Pakistan are busy celebrating the “historic” decision where the old PCO judges , pardoned their own high treason and kicked out new PCO judges and once again implemented the doctrine of necessity [as conceded by Justice Tariq of lawyers movement]. The comrades of the black revolution are busy in their thuggery in Lahore [Lawyers have started gangsterism after their success in Lawyers movement].No one is there to see whats happening to Christians after the “daily revolutions of Pakistan-———

Shaheryar Ali

Pakistan Christian Post Reporting:

Pakistan: August 1, 2009. (PCP) It was an other day of mourning for Christians when Muslim mob attacked at Christian Town and gunned down 9 Christian women, children and men and burnt down 50 homes in Gojra.
The first was identified as Inyat Masih among dead and fleeing Christian of Gojra are hiding to save life to identify other dead Christians.

The march of Muslims started from Railway Station Gojra at 12:00 noon today was attended by thousands of local and from near by villages marched towards Christian Town. The Christian Town Gojra is residence of two thousand Christian families who settled here over fifty years.

When Muslim marchers approached Christian Town, some two hundred Muslims hiding their faces with traditional Islamic scarf opened fire on Christian houses.

Protesters

Protesters

The Christian fled from home but who trapped were executed by face covered Muslims with automatic firearms. The Muslim attacker looted 100 homes and set on fire more than fifty Christian houses.

These Militants used a particular type of chemical which is hard to extinguish to burn Christian homes This chemical was used first in the village of “Shanti Nagar” which was set on fire in February 1997. Later this chemical was used in “Sangla Hill Town” and recently used to burn 60 homes of village Korian on night of July 30, 2009.

Sunny Gill based in Karachi told PCP that he called his relatives in Gojra on their Cell Phone after watching news of attack on a local TV channel and they were crying and telling “they have burnt whole colony and they have no shelter to stay in Gojra now” They are very far from Karachi and do not have money to reach to him in Karachi. There are hundreds of Christians stranded and in hiding in Gojra and near by villages.

According to information of PCP, received by calls and e-Mails by relatives of Christians of Gojra, 4 women, one child and 4 men are dead due to gun shots and many have burn injuries.

According to news agencies, four women and one child were burnt alive by Muslims and burnt dead were received by federal Minority Ministry.

Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have condemned statement issued by a minister in Punjab government that “ Muslim marcher were peaceful and some one shot fire on rally to ignite anger among them”

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti expressed concern on media reports which reported attackers to be Sunni Muslims because Christians had always cordial relation with Sunni Sect of Muslims in Pakistan. Such reporting can flare up riots which Christians are not bear to afford because Christian do not guns to protect them.

“PCC demands Punjab government to adopt strict security measure to main law and order to ensure safety of life and property of Christians.

Picture Credit: BBC Urdu

The inferno of “Rah-e-Haq” is burning humanity in Swat. Anyone who is not supporting the barbarity is being declared a “Taliban” by the pro-imperialism and pro establishment liberals. Many assumptions of these liberals are based on myths. One such myth is that Pakistan Army is fighting Taliban in Swat. Pakistan Army is just killing ordinary innocent people in Swat. Taliban were provided safe passages by Army through the clumsily conducted exodus. Some will be killed especially those who are no more loyal to Army. The Taliban have been sighted in the refugee camps of Mardan and Peshawar. Taliban phenomenon is rooted in “state” of Pakistan itself. Rubina Saigol is one of the few academics from Pakistan who has raised the fundamental question about Taliban. She has called it “Pakistan  at war with itself”

Shaheryar Ali

Rubina Saigol , [The News, 28 Feb, 2009]

Religious fundamentalist movements of all shades and hues have gripped large parts of the world and have posed a threat to the prevalent political, economic and social systems. While “fundamentalism” is a term that is used in varying contexts to denote differing realities, its origins lie in 1920s America where it was used to refer to puritanical evangelist movements. The term is sometimes used to deny history by suggesting a return to some imagined early purity or “golden period” that supposedly existed in a bygone era. Fundamentalisms have manifested themselves in virtually all kinds of cultures and societies, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish. Like anything that is not much explored or understood, fundamentalisms have given rise to certain myths that tend to seduce public imagination. The purpose of this article is to try and dismantle eight of the most common myths about Muslim fundamentalism and extremism in our part of the world by juxtaposing such myths against observable facts.

Myth: Fundamentalism is the result of mental and moral backwardness, attitudes, religion and beliefs.

Fact: Fundamentalism is about geopolitics, involving power, money, and control over territory, people and resources. If we examine the actions and pronouncements of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the Swat Taliban – actions that include beheading, rape, murder, public display of dead bodies, public executions, suicide bombings killing scores of innocent people – it is not hard to discern that such actions have little to do with religion or a moral order. Through brutal means and barbaric methods, the Taliban have gained control over territory in Swat and Waziristan. They have forced the government to accept their power over people and resources through the Nizam-e-Adl agreement reached between the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammdi’s Maulana Sufi Muhammad and the provincial government of the ANP. Apart from drug trafficking, the money is raised from donations received from Saudi Arabia and other countries and goes to pay Rs15,000-20,000 per month to about ten thousand militant followers of Maulana Fazlullah.

Myth: Fundamentalism in Pakistan can be traced back to the era of General Zia.

Fact: Fundamentalism can be traced much further back to Imam Hanbal, Al-Ashari, Imam Ghazali (he influenced writers like Ashraf Thanvi who wrote Bahishti Zewar), Abdul Wahhab and the Darul Uloom, Deoband.

Contrary to the common perception that General Zia’s Islamisation laid the foundation of extremist and fundamentalist strands of religion, the seeds were sown much earlier. Reactionary Islamic thought goes back centuries, to the time when rationalism first appeared in Muslim lands. The Asharite revolt against the Mu’tazila rationalist thought located in Greek philosophy, Imam Ghazali’s total repudiation of Reason as a source of truth apart from Revelation, and his denunciation of the great scientists, medicine men, mathematicians and thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Ibn-e-Rushd and Ibn-e-Sina who introduced enlightenment within the Muslim world between the 8th and 11th centuries, are reflections of early fundamentalist reactions. In the heyday of Baghdad, the genius of these thinkers was much admired and they were highly respected during the time of Khalifa Al-Mamun. However, later Muslim rulers like Al-Mutawakkil punished them severely for injecting innovative thought in the Muslim world. It was political power that chose to ally itself with the traditionalist and conservative ulema who crushed innovative and scientific thinking in favour of obscurantism.

The 18th century Arabian thinker Abdul Wahhab, who was also protected by and aligned with the House of Saud and political power, rejected all later accretions in Islamic thought and insisted on returning to purported versions of pure Islam during its early years. The bland Wahhabi version of religion that he propounded was exported to the subcontinent through Saudi Arabian funding of religious movements in Pakistan. The much more syncretic, tolerant and non-violent versions of Sufi Islam were rejected by a highly intolerant version which came though Saudi imperialism. In the context of the subcontinent, fundamentalist thought was furthered by Maulana Maudoodi, who used his influence in the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 which laid the foundation of a potentially “theocratic” state. General Zia made the Objectives Resolution a substantive part of the Constitution in 1985 through the insertion of Article 2-A. General Zia thus merely accelerated a process begun by his predecessors.

Myth: Only religious parties and sectarian outfits support or forge fundamentalism.

Fact: Fundamentalism has been supported or encouraged as much by the so-called secular elite as by religious parties to maintain class power and privilege.

The common assumption that only parties like the JUI-F, JUI-S and Jamaat-e-Islami and sectarian and Jehadi outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan or Harkat-ul-Mujahideen support fundamentalism in Pakistan overlooks the constant capitulation to religious extremism by seemingly secular and liberal parties. Most analysts like to quote Jinnah’s August 11, 1947, speech to argue that he envisioned a secular state, but in several of his other speeches he catered to the religious lobby’s sentiments to justify the two-nation concept. In 1940 he declared: “It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.”

Even though Ayub Khan was considered modern and enlightened, a large number of his speeches cater to the religious lobby, in particular the ones that were designed to ensure “national integration” and emphasise Pakistani identity over ethnic and regional identities. In 1962 he declared: “Pakistan came into being on the basis of an ideology which does not believe in differences of colour, race or language. It is immaterial whether you are a Bengali or a Sindhi, a Baluchi or a Pathan or a Punjabi – we are all knit together by the bond of Islam.” The Council for Islamic Ideology was established during his rule to scrutinise laws for their conformity to religion. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, often associated with the Left and socialist thought, caved in to the demand to declare the Qadianis non-Muslims in 1974 through the Second Amendment, and later capitulated to the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement by taking certain symbolic measures towards Islamisation. The National Education Policy of 1972 declared that Islam is woven into the warp and woof of Pakistani society and would be reflected centrally in education. It was during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure that the Taliban gained ascendancy in Afghanistan in 1996 and her government was the first to recognise their rule.

Again, it was the right-of-centre PML-N which, during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure, instituted the death penalty (295c) for blasphemy, a law much abused by religious zealots against the Ahmadi and Christian communities. In his second tenure he introduced his infamous Shariat Bill (15th amendment) which would have effectively made him Amir-ul-Momineen, for it was designed to gain power by deciding virtue and vice and imposing it upon the country. Most recently, the ANP has entered into a desperate agreement with TNSM for Shariat in return for peace – an expensive peace which may or may not come about! Liberal, centrist and Left-oriented leaders and parties have contributed heavily to the rise of religious fanaticism in order to maintain their hold on power.

Myth: Fundamentalists want a genuine Shariah-based system of quick and affordable justice.

Fact: Fundamentalist and extremist outfits have little or no understanding of Shariah and have devised a highly convoluted version of Shariah that is rejected by a large number of serious religious scholars.

Recent interviews of a cross-section of religious scholars and thinkers in Punjab and the NWFP conducted by a team of researchers reveals the following: There is not a single serious scholar of Shariah and Islamic jurisprudence who believes that bombing and torching girls’ schools, digging out dead bodies and hanging them from trees, murdering with wild abandon and killing innocent people with suicide bombing are Islamic. Similarly, these scholars informed us that there is no known school of Islamic thought that forbids the education of women and disputes their right to work, or their freedom of movement to carry out their daily tasks. Rather, virtually every scholar or religious leader that we interviewed said education is the foremost duty of every Muslim, man or woman. There is no respected religious scholar who supports the beating of women for going out of their houses or starving children to death by disallowing women from earning a livelihood. Virtually, every scholar, belonging to various sects and schools of thought, strongly condemned the actions of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of Baitullah Mehsood and Fazlullah’s actions in Swat as efforts to give religion a bad name.

Myth: Fundamentalism is the antithesis of imperialism and Jehadis/Taliban are fighting against imperial domination.

Fact: Fundamentalism and imperialism are deeply linked and invoke each other for their own aims; fundamentalism is itself a specific form of imperialism.

In his thoroughly researched book Jihad-e-Kashmir o Afghanistan, journalist Muhammad Amir Rana reveals the following: After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Jimmy Carter’s administration created a secret fund of $500 million to create terror outfits to fight the Soviets. Nicknamed “Operation Cyclone,” this fund was kept secret even from Congress and the American public. Subsequently, the Reagan administration and Saudi Arabia provided $3.5 billion to General Zia’s regime for the funding of madrassahs for the Afghan Jihad. Militants were trained in the Brooklyn School in New York and in Virginia by the CIA. In Pakistan they were trained by MI6 and the Inter-Services-Intelligence. Between 1979 and 1990 there was a mushroom growth of madrassahs – Jihad-related organisations grew by 100 percent and sectarian outfits multiplied at the rate of 90 percent. By 1986 the rate of increase of deeni madaris was 136 percent annually, whereas in previous times it had been a mere 3 percent. By 2002, 7,000 religious institutions were offering degrees in higher education. Currently, it is estimated that there are between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassahs operating in Pakistan, teaching over 1.5 million children. Pakistan is in fact located at the nexus of multiple and competing imperialisms representing the US (and the so-called West), Saudi Arabian Wahhabiism and Iranian forms.

Myth: Fundamentalism and related terrorism are problems of the Frontier regions/FATA/Swat.

Fact: The Largest recruitment for Afghan and Kashmir Jehad is from the Punjab followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan.

Amir Rana’s study reveals that Punjab contributes about 50 percent of the Jihadi workforce, followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan. Punjab has the largest number of deeni madaris (5459 according to a 2002 study). The NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan have 2,483, 1,935 and 769, respectively. Karachi alone accounts for about 2,000 madrassahs. Statistics collected by the ministry of education show that FATA has 135 while Islamabad alone has 77 deeni madaris. According to Rana, the great majority of militants from the Punjab were sent to fight in Kashmir by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, while most of the Pakhtoon and Balochi youth from the NWFP and Balochistan were sent to and killed in Afghanistan. Most belonged to the JUI-F and the TNSM (which has now entered into an agreement with the ANP government of the NWFP). A large number of organisations, such as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jabbar wal Islami, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Badr and Lashkar-e-Islam have participated in the Kashmir and Afghan Jihad getting their poor foot soldiers killed while the leaders enjoy luxurious lifestyles that include Pajeros, expensive mobile phones, large houses and frequent air travel.

Myth: Only non-state actors are involved in religion-based terrorism and fundamentalism.

Fact: State policy, in line with imperial and vested interests, has fully encouraged and supported the growth and rise of fundamentalist and sectarian outfits.

The state is fully implicated in backing, supporting and fanning the growth of extremist outfits. Pakistan’s “strategic depth” theory effectively helped keep the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, even as they killed, murdered and butchered children for playing football, women for going to the bank or school, working or lifting the lower part of the burqa to cross a river. The reign of terror had Pakistan’s official support while the rest of the world remained incredulous. The policy of “bleeding India with a thousand cuts” through infiltration in Kashmir also had state sponsorship. One look at the curriculum and teachings by Jamaat-ud-Daawa, an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba, reveals the main purpose of this organisation. Their alphabet revolves around killing, murdering and jihad and their hatred is focused on Hindus. The games children play are war games designed to inspire them to lay down their lives for “holy war.” Going into the Afghan jihad in return for dollars was also a state decision.

Myth: Fundamentalist outfits have the support of local populations.

Fact: People have invariably voted in secular and liberal parties in elections.

A frequent defence in favour of religious hegemony is that the people are essentially religious and want a religious order in Pakistan. An examination of all elections held since 1970 reveals that people invariably voted for secular and liberal parties, while religious parties were promoted only by dictators: the Jamaat-e-Islami by General Zia and the MMA by Musharraf! The major winners of elections in 1970, 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 were the Awami League, the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP and the MQM, along with smaller nationalist parties. The religious parties failed to capture people’s imagination in a significant way in any election.

The myths that one has tried to unpack above need detailed scrutiny. As a nation we need to contemplate our choices: can we afford religious extremism with its negative obsession with controlling women as well as its anti-democracy, anti-development stance and its propensity towards violence because of its love for martyrdom, death and the next world? Or, do we need a plural democracy that can ensure fundamental rights while also accommodating and balancing the concerns of the different provinces, ethnicities, religions and genders into a just system of production and distribution.

(The writer is an independent researcher specialising in social development. Email: rubinasaigol@hotmail.com)

Well done Aitzaz Ahsan , Tahirah Abdullah Civil Society and Jinnah worshiping  secular clowns who marched with Jamate Islami and PML-N. Those who became hysteric on Governor Taseer’s take over. Crying for “good governance” of Shahbaz Sharif. One clown i encountered on blogosphere was declaring Shahbaz Sharif “greatest administrator” of Punjab since Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Yet another wrote a “qaseeda” of Sharif trying to prove his secular-progressive credentials. Ironies of History, these elitists thugs who gave life to dying Pakistani right wing consider “One man populist-authoritarian” model of governance as “good governance”. They also consider “bureaucratization” and “centralization” key to “good governance”. In the age of de-centralization and de-regulation , distribution of responsibility and power this man restored the British Colonial model of administration and yet he is being hailed as model of

Shahbaz Sharif. The Punjabi SS

Shahbaz Sharif. The Punjabi SS

“good governance”. Irony is that most of these clowns hold degrees from United States and UK. More conscientious has been Ayiaz A Mir , the MP from Shaif’s party who has written consistently against Shahbaz Sharif’s mode of governance. The lawyer’s movement and Civil society’s delusions have resulted in return of Right. Southern Punjab has become hub of Islamic fascism thanks to Shahbaz Sharif’s “good governance”. Taliban have thrown leaflets in Multan. Shahbaz Shaif action was to “ban dance” in Lahore. Than he oversaw DVD burning in Lahore. When Lahore shook due to a series of blasts targeting a cultural festival , our secular-progressive and according to HH General Hameed Gul “socialist” CM ordered his chief secretary “to check the spread of Obscenity in name of culture”. Some days back our restored Punjab government darling of Civil society and secular bloggers sponsored the Jihadi “Khatam e Nabuat Conference”, targeting the minority Ahemdi community. The Shirif Loyalist “free judiciary” first released the Monster of Lal Masjid Molana Abdul Aziz

Islam with"Red"Socks

Islam with

and than banned two folk singers on charges of obscenity. Now this report by Asian Human Rights Commission, tell every thing. Irony when lawyers movement supported these thugs in name of “rule of law”. I will say shame on opportunists like Aitzaz Ahsan and Tahira Abdulla

Where is Justice? Where is Justice Iftikhar and his “soumoto”? But our glorious Judge cant see Ahmedies or Balochs.

[Honourable Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary , reciever of Harvard Medal of Freedom has never took notice of any extra-judicial murder or torture of an Ahmedi or any murders [some of them conducted in police/state/judicial custody] of those accused of Blasphemy]

We hope and plead that Chief Justice of Pakistan will act to save lives of these kids. I hope that i am proven wrong on Judiciary and indeed its proven that it has become free! i hope

Qatal e Tifl’an ki manadi ho rahi he shaher mein

Mugh ku bhi maa’n manid e Moosa baha de Neher mein

[The children are being murdered on state decree o my mother throw me in Neil as Mosses mother did [to save his life]

Shaheryar Ali

PAKISTAN: Government of Punjab kept four teenagers and a man in illegal detention on Blasphemy charge

PAKISTAN: Government of Punjab kept four teenagers and a man in illegal detention on Blasphemy charge

ISSUES: Illegal detention; medical treatment; threats; false charges
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that four children were illegally arrested under the blasphemy laws on January 28, 2009. They are in dangerous health conditions in the jail and their parents are not allowed to visit them according to jail policy. One, Mohammad Irfan son of Mukhtar Ahmed, 15 years of age came down with typhoid fever due to the jail’s inhuman, unsanitary conditions. His health is in a precarious state with the jail authorities not allowing him to see a doctor. The detention of the four children has been proved illegal. The senior police officer has submitted a report to the government of Punjab province that the children are innocent and charges of blasphemy as arrested, accused persons are baseless. It is reported that the government of Punjab did not want to annoy Muslim fundamentalists, who are allies of the provincal government, as they will create problems for the government.

CASE DETAILS:

Four students from grades nine and ten of the Superior Academy and Mr. Mubashar Ahmed had been arrested on January 28, 2009. Charges were made that they wrote the name of the last prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, on the walls of a toilet in a mosque. (See further: AHRC-STM-022-2009) The students are kotsultan_bnrMuhammad Irfan (14), son of Muhammad Mukhtar, Tahir Imran (16), son of Abdul Ghaffar, Tahir Mehmood (14), son of Muhammad Aslam and Naseer Ahmed (14), son of Nasrullah. All five are from the Ahmedi community, a minority sect of Islam. It was declared infidel for making amendments in the constitution. The five are victims of the Punjab provincial government working against the Ahmediah sect by holding a conference against the community. On April 11, 2009, the provincial government arranged a conference on the finalization of prophethood and a resolution was passed to purge all officials from the provincial government who are from the Ahmediah sect.

The whole process of the arrest of four students and one aged person was illegal because an investigation, mandated by law prior to the registration of a blasphemy case, was not held. According to an amendment made by parliament in 2004 in section 295-C of the constitution, police officials, not less than senior superintendent of police, are obligated to thoroughly investigate accusations of blasphemy before presenting criminal charges. But police, under the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists’ groups, have not followed the due process of law and arrested five persons. The provincial police, under threats of strike and agitation, made no investigation for almost one and half months just to please the fundamentalists’ groups. The Layyah district police also have not made any investigation, in spite of the fact, that the case was registered in the same district. This was again due to violent reaction from the Muslim

Kids in Chains , Islam and Justice

Kids in Chains , Islam and Justice

groups. The senior superintendent of police (SSP) of another district, the Rajan Pur, Mr. Pervez Rathore was assigned to conduct the investigation and prepare a report in which the police will submit a challan (case diary) in the court against the accused persons. The SSP, after thorough investigation, declared that the case of Blasphemy against the accused students and a man, was false. It had no base and the accused persons were to be released as no bad intentions were involved. The report was sent to the ministry of the interior, government of Punjab, at the end of March 2009 for the withdrawal of the cases against the five accused persons on blasphemy charges.

The report from the senior police officer is still waiting for action from the government of Punjab since January 28. In addition, another illegal process has surfaced because according to the law, police have to produce challan (case diary) immediately after the investigation is completed. The government has stopped producing students before the magistrate’s court and parents are still not allowed to visit their children in jail. One student, Mohammad Irfan, contracted typhoid fever and the others are suffering from several other diseases. On the instruction of the first class magistrate, Layyah, the provincial police have to submit the challan on April 28. However, it was again deferred to May 12. The local police say that they could not submit challan as they are waiting for instructions from the government of Punjab. The Layyah district police fears that if they release all the students then Muslim fundamentalist groups will resort to violence and kill the accused persons.

Victim’s pictures Credit: The Persecution of Ahmadiyyah Muslim Community Blog