RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Is this kidnapping for ransom?


The recent kidnapping of a Hindu spiritual leader, Lakki Chand Garji, who happens to be the ‘maharaja’ of the Kali Mata Mandir’  has shocked many. It was first solely read as an attempt to target the Hindus here in Pakistan, and for obvious reasons including the conditions under which they live in this country. Pakistan is not the best place for minorities to live and the strong wave of extremism has given this belief another boost. But considering Balochistan complex situation, I would rather like to keep other options in mind too, not just a simple attack on Hindus. Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister of Balochistan, has already pointed out that the kidnapping is for ransom and that is the option we cannot rule out.

Minorities could be an easy and strong target at the same time for ransom and especially when it is about the life of their spiritual leader. The kidnappers always get their message through easily when it is someone from minorities because of the concerns of minorities and human rights groups . The protests triggered by the kidnapping has attracted the CM attention who has directed the law enforcing agencies to ensure his safe release.

Kidnapping-for-ransom incidents have been on the rise in Balochistan except target killing. The kidnappers manage to whisk away in broad daylight and sometimes and eventually the families of victims  have to pay huge amounts to secure their release. The law enforcing agencies could not succeed in ensuring the release of those kidnapped in at least two cases that I have known. A renowned businessman Ahmed Ali Hazara was abducted from Gordath Singh Road in February 2009,  who was released after his family paid huge amount. Similarly, a senior advocate of Balochistan High Court Iftikharul Haq was abducted close to his house at Doctor Bano Road in March 2009, but despite a suo moto notice and protests by lawyers, his family ended up paying a handsome amount to his kidnappers. The police, unfortunately, could not be of any good in these cases.

If Lakki Chand Garji’s case, it may happen again…

Below is the story:

Islamabad, Dec 23 (IANS) A leading Hindu spiritual leader of Pakistan was kidnapped at gunpoint in Balochistan province while he was on his way to officiate a wedding.

Eightytwo-year-old Lakki Chand Garji, who is the `maharaja’ of the Kali Mata Mandir in Kalat town, is considered to be one of Pakistan’s most revered Hindu spiritual leaders. He was kidnapped Tuesday night, the Express Tribune reported Thursday.

As the news of his abduction spread, hundreds of Hindu community members blocked the key highway that links Karachi and Quetta, bringing traffic to a halt for several hours.

Hindus demanded that the government secure the immediate release of their spiritual leader. Garji along with five people was travelling from Kalat town to Khuzdar to attend a marriage ceremony.

The media report said that he was intercepted by armed men who kidnapped him. The people accompanying him were later released. ‘A vehicle was chasing us and intercepted us at a deserted place near Surab, some hundred kilometers away from Kalat,’ said Babo Lal, who was one of the five men released by kidnappers.

‘The kidnappers tied our hands from behind with rope and blind folded us, thus I do not know where they were heading,’ Lal was quoted as saying.

Lakki Chand Garji has been the ‘maharaja at Kali Mata Mandir for the past 60 years and he has command on several languages including Balochi, Hindi, Sindhi, Persian and Brahavi, his devotees said.

Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Balochistan province chief minister, told the media that he believed it was an incident of kidnapping for ransom and did not have religious overtones. Raisani directed law enforcement agencies to secure the release of the Hindu community leader at the earliest.

He observed that kidnapping cases had risen in certain areas of the province. The protests by the Hindu community members took place in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki. Hindu community elders said that that they are being targeted by criminals.

Community leaders Nand Lal, Raj Kumar and Chander Kumar said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the people, particularly those belonging to the minority community.

The Hindu Panchayat Quetta took out a rally from the Arya Samaj Mandir in Quetta and went through Jinnah Road, Masjid Road, Shahra-e-Iqbal and Mannan Chowk of the Baloch capital city.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 26, 2010 in Hindus

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Protests by religious clerics


Asia Bibi, in their view, has committed a crime-blasphemy- which cannot be forgiven. And because in this country they are running the show and we are forced to believe that their judgment is right. Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a name big enough that does not need these defenders, and also sacred enough that even no blasphemy, if ever committed, can do any harm to it.

Let’s have a look at these pictures..

Pakistan's Muslim community protest against changes to the Blasphemy Law for insulting the Prophet Muhammed. Hyderabad, Pakistan. 24/12/2010.

 

Pakistan's Muslim community protest against changes to the Blasphemy Law for insulting the Prophet Muhammed. Hyderabad, Pakistan. 24/12/2010.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Appeal: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian woman should be prosecuted


Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission received information that Muslim fundamentalist and extremist groups have advocated publicly that a Christian lady, Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws should not be pardoned even though her pardon was awarded by a session court on the instigation of Muslim religious leadership. Some have offered a cash reward for Aasia’s assassination. Since the introduction of 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by a military dictator in 1986, dozens of persons from religious minority groups have been killed or lynched by mobs. Pakistan’s courts have also proved themselves biased on blasphemy law.

Throughout Pakistan, wall chalking and graffiti declare support for killing Aasia, call for death to Aasia, and declare support for blasphemy law. A high profile campaign has also started in the private media channels against reforming the blasphemy law, and participants use filthy words against those persons who are advocating amendment of section 295-C of the PPC.

Please sign the appeal urging the authorities to pardon Aasia and abolish the amendments in blasphemy law. The religious minorities should be given full protection from the misuse of blasphemy law.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salim, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salim used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salim pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce witnesses. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam or he is an infidel.

Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody. Please see the urgent appeal in the case of Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid.

In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy. Please go to his case by clicking here.

One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The deliberate institutionalisation of Islam’s status as protected and predominant promoted the perpetuation of religious intolerance by Islamic fundamentalists. According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), at least 964 persons were alleged of violating these anti-blasphemy clauses from 1986 to August 2009, while more than 30 persons were killed extra-judicially by the angry mob or by individuals.

Militant Muslim organizations are using blasphemy laws as the best way to keep religious minority groups under pressure and even forcibly take land. The state is failing to protect the lives and property of minority communities. The blasphemy law has made it compulsory that no police officer below the level of Superintendent of Police can investigate the charges but this is rarely adhered to.

Recent cases in Pakistan suggest a criminal collaboration among government authorities, police, and fundamentalist organizations, in which the Muslim clergy, receiving bribes from land-grabbers in the National and Provincial Assemblies, colluded with local police to expropriate land owned by minorities by bringing blasphemy allegations against them. The situation is especially worrying in Punjab province after the formation of the PML-N government, which has a record of intolerant policies against Christians and Ahmadis in particular.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the letters to the authorities urging them to pardon Aasia and release her immediately. Please ask them to arrest those Muslim leaders who are instigating the people to kill her and have announced rewards for killing her. Please also urge that the children and family members of her be provided protection and employment.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious tolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

To support this appeal please click here:
——————————

————————

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian lady should be prosecuted

Name of victim:
Ms. Aasia Bibi, 45, mother of five living in Ittanwali village, Nanka district, Punjab province, Pakistan
Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Maulani Yousuf Querashi, Imam Majid Mahabat Khan, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtonn Kha province, Pakistan
2. Maulana Muhammad Salim, Imam Masjid, Ittanwala village, Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan
3. Editor, daily Nawa-i-waqt, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan
Date of incident: November 1, 2010
Place of incident: Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding death sentence of Aasia, a Christian mother of five, on the charges of blasphemy by a court and the government’s inability to prosecute those elements who are openly announcing their intention to kill her or award cash money for that purpose. Because of lawlessness and government weakness the Muslim extremist groups are finding it easy to kill her extra judicially. From past experience it has been noted that up until now, blasphemy law had not led to an execution of any accused or convicted. But 33 people charged with blasphemy have been killed in prison by guards or in the vicinity of the court.

It is very shocking that mosque leader Mahabat Khan, of Peshawar, has announced a decree calling for the killing of Asia and a reward of Rs 500,000 ($6000 USD) to be given to the killer. The call for extra judicial killing by an Muslim leader was totally ignored by the government, which shows that there is no rule of law in the country and every person can claim his own law is Islamic law. This amounts to a total collapse of rule of the law and justice system.

Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salem, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salem used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salem pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce any witness. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam.

Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody.

In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy.

One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

I urge the government to take strong action against the fundamentalist Muslim leaders who take the law in their own hands in the name of Islam and want to rule the country with their extremist designs and misuse the blasphemy law.

I urge you to immediately repeal the black law, the blasphemy law, or at least delete section 295 from the Pakistan Penal Code, release Aasia Bibi and provide protection to her and her family. Also prosecute those who issued decrees ordering the killing of Aasia Bibi.

I look forward to your prompt action to provide substantial and comprehensive policy responses on the protection of religious minority groups and misuse of blasphemy law.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +92 51 9204801      end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 51 9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk, pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

3. Mr. A. Rehman Malik
Federal Minister for Interior
Government of Pakistan,
R block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +92 51 9212026      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 51 9212026, 51 9212026, 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com, interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US AID Building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
E-mail: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

5. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99203044
E-mail: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

6. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

7. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99212004
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

8. Dr. Faqir hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

Thank you.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Blasphemy, Christians, Petitions

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Disabled people not allowed to pray in congregation’


 

 

There are some others too who fail to let their voices heard despite all their efforts. But some have ears to hear them like the one who did this story on disabled people. This blog is for all those who are considered minority for any possible reason. But I, when mention minority, refer to their strengths and abilities. Highlighting their problems here show that how much we need them in the society as an integral part. It also shows how much we believe in their capabilities in contributing to this society in a productive way.

Let’s take our first step towards embracing those who hesitate in coming to us because of any handicap–physical, mental or social.

Below is the story:

Express Tribune by Sher Ali

KARACHI: There is a ban on wheelchairs inside mosques and disabled people are not allowed to pray in congregation, pointed out the Association of Physically Handicapped Adults (APHA) on World Disability Day.

“The mullahs, who shut their mosques to us, have no idea about religion,” said the association’s SM Nishat at a news conference on Friday.

According to APHA statistics, 10 per cent of the people in Pakistan are disabled in one way or the other. Out of these, 40 per cent of people are physically challenged and can barely live on the benefits offered by the state.

“We do not want pity or sympathetic looks from people. We are talented educated professionals,” said Dr Maimoona Bari, who runs her own clinic in North Nazimabad and is a member of the association’s executive committee. “We just want to be awarded our rights.”

“The two-per cent employment quota for the disabled is being given to [non-disabled] individuals and that is unfair,” complained APHA president Shariful Muzaffer. “Before they used to tell us that we aren’t educated enough but now when we prove our qualifications, they still offer the jobs to others.”

The Express Tribune contacted Sindh Minister for Social Welfare Nargis N D Khan for a confirmation but she insisted that the “quota is being fulfilled”. “We are hiring in all positions, such as coordinators and computer technicians, depending on the applicant’s ability and education,” she said.

Khan refused, however, to give an exact number of disabled people who have been hired during her tenure. “I don’t know the exact figure but we have issued advertisements and will be hiring soon,” she said.

The government also offers a 50-per cent discount to disabled people on airfare and railway tickets but members of the association claimed that the discount is either useless or not offered at all.

Syed Javed Qadeer of the APHA narrated his experience with the national airline, whose agent quoted an airfare higher than the regular, economy-class ticket. The agent said that the airline offers all its discounts on the business-class ticket.

“This made no sense to me because we can barely afford the economy ticket and now we have to pay more than the regular fare,” said Qadeer, who called the ticketing centre and received a confirmation that the 50-percent discount for disabled people and the 25-per cent discount for the attendant flying with them is only offered on the higher classes of both economy and business.

Another member of the executive committee, Shazia Yousaf, who has been working at NADRA for the past 10 years, complained that she receives pitiful looks every time she rides a bus but she doesn’t let it get to her. “What I do need is some help and for others to realise that they need to do their part as well,” she said.

“We need ramps for easy access into buildings, railings for support to climb stairs, lower footpaths to climb onto without help and buses friendly for handicapped people. This is not charity we are asking for, this is our right.”

Rally outside KPC

The Disabled Welfare Association organised a rally on Friday and walked from Karachi Press Club towards the Arts Council roundabout. The participants demanded more land for a training workshop for the disabled as the present 40-yard space was not enough.

The association’s president, Javaid Raees, said that the chief minister has been making promises for the past two years. Raees held negotiations with special advisers to the chief minister, M Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani, who were later joined by Pakistan Peoples Party Karachi chapter president Najmi Alam. Alam promised 25 government jobs for the disabled as well as a larger plot of land.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 4, 2010 in Very Very Special people

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pakistan can be the next Golgotha


By Khaled Ahmed
The Friday Times (TFT)

We are trapped in our own scheming in the name of Islam. Blasphemy Law is biting the state and the government can do nothing. An illiterate dirt-poor Asiya Bibi is to die for all of us devotees of the faith. The world is begging us to do something. The Pope has appealed only to get an unworthy repartee from our bearded firebrands. The government is now hamstrung.

The President won’t pardon her because he can’t challenge the clout of the clergy at its strongest at the present moment; he has just signed on the appointment of a harsh cleric to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). A moderate CII former member Javed Ghamidi is on the run from Islamic terrorists as he criticises the bad law that hands down death for blasphemy without the normal criteria of justice, such as intent and level of consciousness.

Poisoning of national language: You can still write sanely in English but not in Urdu, so poisoned is the national tongue even as experts opine that true learning is only possible in one’s own language. Iftikhar Murshid writing in The News (28 Nov 2010) says: ‘Blasphemy laws have existed in British India since 1860. In 1927, Article 295 was added to the Penal Code under which “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief” became a culpable offence.

‘The law was non-discriminatory and conviction under its provisions depended exclusively on conclusive evidence, as a consequence of which there were only ten blasphemy cases in the 58 years between 1927 and 1985. Since that year the number of blasphemy cases has soared to more than 4,000. In 1982, Gen Ziaul Haq introduced Section 295-B in the Penal Code of Pakistan, under which “defiling the Holy Quran” became punishable by life imprisonment. In 1986, Section 295-C was added, mandating capital punishment for “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet”. Even the law minister at the time did not support the bill when it was introduced in the National Assembly “on the ground that the Quran did not prescribe a penalty for this offence”.

Liberals on the run: The enactment of Ziaul Haq’s blasphemy laws unleashed a reign of terror in which the impoverished Christian community suffered the most. The violence will continue till these draconian laws are repealed. This is unlikely, however, because the present law minister, Babar Awan, was quoted by the print media on Nov 26 as saying that ‘no one can change the blasphemy laws’. Thus, so-called liberal politicians have been just as responsible as semi-educated clerics for the distortion of the laws of Islam in pursuit of their respective political agendas’.

Huma Yusuf researching a book in Washington thinks Pakistan was ‘on the brink’ as it faced the endgame in Afghanistan. The extremism within was damaging Pakistan’s chances of implementing a credible strategy. Writing in Dawn (28 Nov 2010) she said: ‘The government has made little headway in its efforts to change the climate of xenophobia and intolerance in Pakistani society. No doubt, the right noises have been made: Zardari’s government is the first to appoint a minister for minorities; it also established the Sufi Advisory Council and the Sindh Education Department is now launching an International University of Sufism at Bhit Shah. But all this signifies little in real terms’.

For Asiya no asylum either: The PPP government has backed off from any consideration of repealing the law; it will back down also on the question of pardon. What is more, it will find it difficult to send Asiya Bibi into asylum in the West. (Times are different from when Salamat Masih was exiled even though the judge who had favoured him at the High Court was later assassinated.) The other side is just too strong; and the opposition doesn’t care that it will have very little valid ground to stand if it comes to power after the PPP.

Everybody is in a frenzy of toppling and the only party that is winning is Al Qaeda. The PPP will go along with the aroused clergy and let the victims of blasphemy law down. Asiya Bibi will either have to die to save all of us from the wrath of the mullah or she will rot in jail indefinitely as she has already done for over a year. Let us have a taste of what has appeared in the Urdu press where the battle in favour of the evil law is being fought.

Lawyers and clergy join hands: Leader of JUIF Dr Atiqur Rehman told Express (23 Nov 2010) that the entire world had laws punishing blasphemy, but he did not say whether the entire world gave death as the minimum punishment for blasphemy. Christian Minorities Minister Shehbaz Bhatti said that Blasphemy Law was being misused to persecute non-Muslims. Cleric Afzal Qadri said Blasphemy Law was abused the same way as the Murder Law but no one protested against the latter law. Wukla persons protest against Asiya Bibi: Reported in Jinnah (23 Nov 2010) the lawyers of Nankana Sahib and Sangla Hill came out to protest against the granting of pardon to Asiya Bibi and said that such a pardon would be contempt of court. They said the court should take notice of efforts to smuggle Asiya Bibi abroad.

Shujaat against Asiya’s pardon: Reported in Jang (24 Nov 2010) Chaudhry Shujaat of PMLQ – always the first to bend the knee to tumescent clergy – said that pardon given to the Blasphemy Law victim Asiya Bibi would be wrong and would entail violent reaction. JUI wants Asiya hanged? Reported in Jinnah (24 Nov 2010) coalition partner of PPP the JUIF said that Asiya Bibi should be allowed to face whatever punishment the courts hand down to her and that there should be no pardon. It supported death sentence for blasphemy and asked the government to pay more attention to drone attacks. It said it will physically resist any pardon.

Rana Sanaullah in the breach as always: Daily Jinnah (24 Nov 2010) reported that religious parties in Sheikhupura in Punjab came out in strength supporting the death sentence of Asiya Bibi blocking all roads and causing traffic jams and saying that they will not allow pardon to her and will react to sending her out of the country for asylum. Rana Sanaullah for Asiya death: Law minister of Punjab Rana Sanaullah was quoted by Jinnah (24 Nov 2010) as saying that he was in agreement with the punishment meted out to Asiya Bibi under Penal Code Section 295C and that Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer was acting like a spoiled child (bigra batcha) by supporting her and trying to win a pardon for her. He said by doing dalassa (compassion) to Asiya he was causing a Muslim-Christian conflict (fasad).

Cities rise against Asiya’s asylum: Daily Jinnah (24 Nov 2010) reported that a number of cities staged protests against the alleged shifting of Asiya from Sheikhupura jail to Islamabad before sending her away to the US to avoid her being hanged under orders from a sessions judge. The processions were arranged by power religious organisations such as Tehreek Hurmat Rasul, Sunni action and Sunni Ittehad Council. Friday was named as the grand protest day against Asiya’s asylum.

Famous columnist Hamid Mir wrote to say that Afiya had confessed to blasphemy and now had to face the music. But some years ago he was less quiescent, which is a measure of how extremist Pakistan had become. He had written in Jang (26 June 2006) that the PPP’s imprisoned leader Yusuf Raza Gilani had stated in his book that when in 1990 Nawaz Sharif became prime minister and wanted to change the Blasphemy Law but Ms Bhutto in the opposition did not help him in parliament. Still later Ms Bhutto returned to power in 1993 and wanted to change the Blasphemy Law but this time Nawaz Sharif did not help her.

That kind of a game is still on.

Pakistan bride, Osama bin Laden bridegroom: Pakistan will not stop having death wishes. Usually nations on their way down have a single death wish. Pakistan has many. It wants the Qadianis killed and wants to use blasphemy to hang them but is netting others instead. It is like a fisherman who will kill other fish to get at the one he wants. Christians as a community are threatened after we in our stupidity have broadened the net of blasphemy by including all prophets. Since the Bible has stories of Prophets that Muslims consider insulting – Noah, David and Solomon get a raw deal – the entire Christian community led by the bishops might have to be hanged collectively. Pakistan may the next Golgotha.

So be it, because most of us will die anyway after Al Qaeda takes over. Pakistan is a bride in her conjugal chamber waiting to be ravished by Osama bin Laden. We got Pakistan from Jinnah and are now ready to hand it over to the minions of bin Laden. What gives me just a shred of satisfaction as I ready myself to die as a secular person is the fact that all Barelvis who are now baying for the blood of a poor Christian woman will be disembowelled by the ‘superior’ Muslim followers of Al Qaeda and made to hang in the various squares of Pakistan. We have had the foretaste of it in Swat and elsewhere in the Tribal Areas.

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Blasphemy, Christians

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,