Tag Archives: Dawn

Kalash falls to Kalash–nikov

An honest answer to one simple question about your identity as a Pakistani or a Muslim explains the roots of extremism and an increasing intolerance among this society. I was asked this question many years ago, and my answer was not logical rather an abrupt and sudden gush of emotions. I said I am a Muslim first. The later years have weakened or killed that emotion and today I would like to answer in a different way.

The white patch in Pakistan’s flag which seems evaporating now, determines the answer. We are Pakistani first is a simple answer to this white patch. The difference in views of majority is stark. Majority now dreams of a homeland only for Muslims and the survival for rest depends on their submission to majority’s religion.

A few months ago, my friend Saad Sarfraz Sheikh, went to Kalash, a beautiful valley in the northwest of Pakistan, to capture its exotic beauty and rich culture. A tiny tribe of total 4,500 people, which cannot be a considerate share of the total 180 million Pakistanis, is about to be nonexistent. He returned with breathtaking pictures, but seemed perturbed. In the middle of the Kalash fairytale, he mentioned his visit to a school which did not have pupils for some unknown and known reasons. The school’s timetable shows a class of Islamic studies for the students who do not believe in Islam. How would Muslims feel if they are forced to attend a class on Christianity? In my view, they will be marching on roads, burning tyres and property, and calling it a threat to Islam and a Jewish conspiracy against Muslims. My friend mentioned that how tremendously Kalash has changed due to the extremist elements forcing the people to convert to Islam. Some radical Muslims, bound to spread Islam by force, began building mosques in the valley for Kalashis, who claim descent from Alexander the Great’s army.

The valley runs along the border ofAfghanistanand for centuries, they sacrificed animals and practiced polytheism without any interference from the Muslim community.

So what has changed now? The youth of this country, mainly inspired by Jihad against then Soviet Union, have grown up brandishing radicalized version of Islam. The concept of coexistence is at stake in this country, which has minimized the chances of survival for our minorities. Now the question arises that can all flee from this country in sheer despair and frustration? Will this country have space only for a particular sect of Islam? But we need to ask ourselves if we are humans or Pakistanis first or Muslims later? If the answer is Pakistanis first, I see hope.

Reuters Story:

Nestled among the valleys of Pakistan’s mountainous northwest, a tiny religious community that claims descent from Alexander the Great’s army is under increasing pressure from radicals bent on converting them to Islam.

The Kalash , who number just about 3,500 in Pakistan’s population of 180 million, are spread over three valleys along the border with Afghanistan. For centuries they practiced polytheism and animal sacrifice without interference from members of Pakistan’s Muslim majority.

But now they are under increasing danger from proselytising Muslim militants just across the border, and a hardline interpretation of Islam creeping through mainstream society — as Pook Shireen discovered.

After falling unconscious during a car accident , the mid-20s member of the paramilitary Chitral Scouts woke to find that people with him had converted him to Islam.

“Some of the Muslim people here try to influence the Kalash or encourage them by reading certain verses to them from the Koran,” said his mother, Shingerai Bibi.

“The men that were with him read verses of the Koran and then when he woke up they said to him, ‘You are a convert now to Islam’. So he converted.”

The conversion was a shock for his family. But they were lucky compared with other religious minorities under threat from growing religious conservatism that is destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

In May 2010, more than 80 Ahmadis, a minority who consider themselves Muslims but are regarded by Pakistan as non-Muslim, were killed in attacks on two mosques in Lahore.

Then in March this year, the Christian minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose job it was to protect groups like the Kalash, was assassinated outside his home in the capital, Islamabad, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.


The lush green Kalash valleys, which sit below snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush, have been a magnet for tourists, both for the scenery and for the people, who are indigenous to the area.

Most are fair and with light eyes, which they say proves their descent from the army of Alexander of Macedonia that passed through the area in the 4th century BC to invade India. The community brews its own wine and women are not veiled.

But the smooth co-existence between the Kalash and Muslims has been fading in recent months and the area is suffering from many of the religious tensions marring the rest of Pakistan.

The conversions are causing splits among the Kalash — converts become outcasts overnight, described by many as “dead to their families”.

“When a Kalash converts we don’t live with them in our houses anymore,” said farmer Asil Khan, sitting on a neighbor’s balcony.

“Our festivals and our culture are different. They can’t take part in the festivals or the way we live.”

Some in the area are so concerned that they believe segregation is the only way to protect the Kalash.

“We should move the Muslims out of the valley to make more room for the Kalash,” said Shohor Gul, a Kalash member of the border police who lives in Rumbur valley. “This area should be just for us. We dislike these conversions – it disturbs our culture and our festivals, and it reduces our numbers.”

The subject of Kalash festivals is raised often in these narrow valleys, where carefully cultivated corn crops cover what flat land exists, and the Kalash community’s distinctive wooden houses terrace the valley walls.

Held to usher in seasonal change or to pray for a good harvest, Kalash festivals include hypnotic dancing and animal sacrifice, fueled by the grape wine with which the Kalash lace their gatherings.

Converts to Islam say, though, that these rituals quicken the decision to leave the Kalash.

“The main thing wrong in the Kalash culture are these festivals,” said 29-year-old convert Rehmat Zar. “When someone dies the body is kept in that house for three days.”

Muslims usually bury people the day they die.

Zar added of the Kalash: “They slaughter up to a hundred goats and the family are mourning – but those around them are celebrating, beating drums, drinking wine and dancing. Why are they celebrating this? That’s wrong.”


Not all of the area’s Muslims feel this way.

Qari Barhatullah is the imam, or priest, at the Jami Masjid in Bumboret valley’s Shikanandeh village.

He stresses that many of the valley’s Muslims value the Kalash’s contributions to the area’s tourism industry and contends that Kalash festivals run parallel to their own.

He admits though that there is tension between the two communities. Unveiled Kalash girls in colorful homemade skirts and head-dresses grow up alongside Muslim women covered by the all-enveloping burqas.

The Kalash girls are also free to marry who they chose, in a country where arranged marriages are common.

“We do support the Kalash – Islam teaches us respect for other religions – but there are people here, maybe they are not as educated – who don’t like the Kalash because of their religion,” Barhatullah said.

Akram Hussain oversees the Kalasha Dur, a cultural center devoted to promoting and protecting the Kalash culture, a stunning structure of elegantly crafted carved wooden beams and stone where Kalash children are educated. It also houses a library, clinic and museum, which are open to both the Kalash and Muslim communities.

“Some of the Muslims here don’t want to educate the Kalash people. They don’t want us to have an education,” he said.

Without more schools that cater exclusively to the Kalash, though, Hussain worries his community and culture will be disappear.

“There are few Kalash teachers and there aren’t schools for older children, so they go to the secondary schools and learn about Islam. The Muslim teachers are brainwashing them. They tell the children that Islam is the only right way and that we are going to hell,” he said.

A provincial spokesman said the regional government is funding development projects for the Kalash and that Pakistan was committed to protecting their unique heritage.

“We have set aside 15 million rupees ($173,210) over three years for projects such as improving roads, water supply systems and community centers,” said Ahmad Hassan. “Whatever the Kalash say they need.”

Others in the Kalash valleys though say development should cease and insist the adoption of Islam should continue, despite the impact on the Kalash culture.

Rehmat Zar, the Kalash convert, says his eventual aim is to convert his entire community to Islam.

“I’m trying my best to convert many of the Kalash myself. I’m trying to convert as many as I can,” he said.

“The people who are trying to preserve the Kalash culture are doing wrong. They are committing a mistake. The Kalash should convert to Islam because this is the real, and last, religion”. ($1 = 86.600 Pakistani rupees)


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Persecution of minorities

Dawn, Shada Islam

SO it has come to this. Reading about Sherry Rehman’s decision to drop her attempt to amend Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, I had three quick thoughts.

First, hats off to a very brave woman. Second, shame on a government and country which cannot protect its minorities from human rights abuses, violence and extremism. Third, forget criticism from Pakistan and other Muslim countries of so-called ‘Islamophobia’ in Europe and America: people in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

Being part of a minority is not easy in any part of the world. History is replete with horrifying examples of persecution of minorities, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust to the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. But I never expected the country I was born in to turn into this sad land of intolerance and ignorance.

Growing up in Pakistan all those years ago, I was taught that the constitution protected Muslims and that the white strip on the Pakistan flag represented Pakistan’s minorities. We lived in a vibrant, diverse multi-cultural community. Like many women my age, I was taught by Christian teachers, brought up by Hindu ayahs and learned ballet from exquisite Parsi ballet dancers. But times have changed, tolerance and accommodation, the concept of ‘live and let live’ have given way to persecution and discrimination.

Pakistan is not alone in treating its minorities as second-class citizens. Across the Muslim world today, being a Christian means at best being subject to hostility and discrimination and in the worst case, facing the death sentence. What I find particularly galling is that the countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan for example — which mete out the harshest treatment to their Christian communities are the most vocal when it comes to denouncing ‘Islamophobia’ in Europe and the US. Frankly, I am getting fed up with such accusations.

Having kept a very close eye on Europe’s 20 million-strong Muslim communities over the last 10 years, I can safely say: yes, it has been a challenging decade for European Muslims but most would agree that it is better to be a Muslim in Europe than a Christian (or a Hindu) in a Muslim country.

There is no doubt that the 9/11 terrorist attacks, followed by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet (PBUH) by several European newspapers, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, as well as subsequent real and suspected terrorist activity in Europe, have resulted in increased suspicion, surveillance and stigmatisation of Europe’s Muslim communities.

Most European governments have enacted tough new anti-terrorist legislation. Populist parties, using a simple anti-foreigner/anti-Islam rhetoric, have gained more influence and power in many EU countries. Mainstream politicians have adopted an equally strident anti-Islam and anti-Muslim narrative to win votes and improve their ratings in opinion polls.

The discussion on integration has been further muddied by rising European concerns about the arrival of refugees and asylum-seekers. In the process, journalistic ethics have suffered, with few journalists ready to challenge prejudice, clichés and misleading reports. Undoubtedly, Europe’s commitment to core values, including human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, has taken a blow.

In addition, Europe’s post 9/11 attitudes towards Islam are linked to security concerns and fears of radicalisation of the continent’s Muslims but also reflect uncertainty about European identity. Making matters worse, an uncertain economic climate in many European countries as well as the presence of weak leaders unable to ease public anxieties about globalisation and unemployment have made it easier for populist politicians to spread a simple albeit toxic xenophobic message: the West is headed for a clash with Islam and Muslims.

However, this is only part of the story. Despite the anxiety about the visible presence of Islam and Muslims in the public space, the last 10 years have also been marked by transition and change in the lives of European Muslims.

The spotlight on European Muslims has had a positive effect by helping Muslims and host communities confront difficult issues of integration and multiple identities which had been neglected and overlooked over decades.

Governments are slowly combining a security-focused prism with a more balanced approach which includes an integration agenda and Muslim outreach programmes. Government and business recruitment policies are being changed gradually to increase the employment of Muslims and minorities. Business leaders are demanding an increase in immigration, including from Muslim countries, to meet Europe’s skills shortage. The EU has adopted a new anti-discrimination directive in the new Lisbon Treaty which strengthens existing rules on combating racism.

Significantly, European Muslims are becoming more active in demanding equal rights as full-fledged citizens, organising themselves into pressure groups, and emerging as influential politicians, entrepreneurs and cultural and sports icons. Ten years after 9/11, the challenge for European governments and European Muslims is to hammer out a fresh narrative which looks at European Muslims as active and full-fledged citizens rather than as exotic foreigners.

Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments on the failure of multiculturalism in Europe, the continent today is a vibrant mix of people, cultures and religions. Integration and mainstreaming is taking place and there is slow but steady recognition that all Europeans, whatever their religion, ethnic origins and cultural background, share a common space.

More time and hard work will be needed before Europeans elect their own Barack Obama and readily embrace and celebrate diversity. But work on such a goal has begun.

My advice to Muslim governments is simple: stop ranting against the West, take a few lessons in citizenship and minority rights from Europe and America and start listening to all your citizens, not just the small number of extremists which carry guns.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Brussels.

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Posted by on February 5, 2011 in Ahmadis, Blasphemy, Christians, minorities


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Attack on Ahmedi place of worship in Mardan

The memories of suicide attacks on Ahmadi Mosques in Lahore are still fresh in people’s minds. The suicide bombing is an addition in the woes of Ahmadi community in Pakistan. They are the ones who were declared non-Muslims by Zia and all their rights even as citizen of this country were taken away from them. Isn’t it strange that Muslims feel threatened if Ahmadis call their worship places as Mosques. Their social status has also been set as second rate citizens.

Above all, another Mosque of Ahmadis was targeted killing one Ahmadi in Mardan. What surprises me the most that these young boys, who become suicide bombers, do not find life interesting. And how easily they give up their lives for some reward which they hope to get God knows when, but at the cost of so many precious innocent lives.

And all the suicide bombing easily fit in the category of Jihad and ironically the suicide bombers kill people in the house of God-Masjid, which is highly contradictory. I have nothing to propose except that it is going to be a long journey; and education and prosperity could only be the possible tools to fight against terrorism.

Below is the story:

MARDAN: A suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of an Ahmedi place of worship in Muslimabad area during the Friday congregation. A man was killed and three people injured. DPO Wakif Khan told journalists that a boy, who appeared to be about 16 years old, detonated the explosives he was wearing when he was intercepted.

The DPO identified the deceased as Sheikh Amir Raza and the injured as Fahim, Abdul Salam and Toseef Ahmed. He said police had found one leg and an arm of the suicide bomber and sent them for forensic examination. Bomb disposal personnel said that seven to eight kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. A hand-grenade was also found at the site.

Police cordoned off the area and launched a search operation in nearby area, but no arrest was made till the evening. In May, about 100 people were killed in Lahore when militants stormed two Ahmedi places of worship. They later attacked a hospital where the injured were being treated.

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Posted by on September 4, 2010 in Ahmadis


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No mercy for killers

Everyday is a new day and also full of surprises, but Pakistan is a country where pleasant surprises are no more possible. Each time, every surprise has to be more horrifying and unbelievable. The latest case of two young brothers who were lynched in Sialkot and that too in the presence of police has shocked everyone. The young innocent boys aged 18 and 16 went to play cricket after Sehri where a mob tortured them for two hours and then hanged them upside down.

The boys in their teens, fans of cricket, faced this brutal death at the time when they have just started dreaming for a bright future. They could not even in their wildest dreams imagine anything this brutal happening to them. But it happened. The presence of police at the scene is a proof that all big crimes take place with the best coordination with police. Their job was to save the boys and disperse that crazy mob but it happened otherwise. Later, the boys were accused of theft, robbery and murder but nothing can justify this barbaric treatment. No crime is big enough that it allows citizens to take law into their hands, but our law enforcement agencies allow this to happen. Now the Chief Justice of Pakistan has asked for investigation, but what will happen except those police officers will be sacked or transferred. Many suspects will be arrested, but will they ever get what they deserve?

In my view, all those who took part in this heinous crime deserve death sentence as anything less than that will never teach a lesson to those who in the name of enmity make life a joke. If the judiciary really wants to ensure justice and accountability then it has to make sure that all culprits meet the same fate, including police personnel. No mercy for killers who just look human but are worse than animals. Here it is the 21st century and I feel people are going backwards to the stone age. Insanity prevails….

Below is the story:

ISLAMABAD: Horrified by a brutal incident of vigilante justice, the Supreme Court on Friday came down hard on law-enforcement personnel and their superior officers who stood by and watched as two young brothers were tortured and then hanged by a mob in Sialkot.

It ordered Anti-Corruption Director General Justice (retd) Kazim Malik to investigate the matter. No-one would dare to take law into his own hands if police had the courage and command to eradicate such brutal and inhuman practices from the society, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry observed while heading a bench which had taken a suo motu action on the matter.

On Aug 15, dozens of people publicly beat to death two young brothers, Hafiz Mughees, 15, and Hafiz Muneeb, 19, in the presence of Sialkot District Police Officer Waqar Chauhan and eight other police officers who watched the brutal act as silent spectators. The bodies were later hanged upside down on the chowk.

Litigants and counsel were shocked and the atmosphere became tense when the gruesome video footage aired by a private TV channel was shown in the courtroom. And it was too much to bear for the grief-stricken grandfather and father of the deceased who started wailing after watching it.

When DPO Chauhan informed the court that the SHO concerned had been arrested, but culprits were yet to be detained, the chief justice said he (Mr Chauhan) deserved to be suspended and sent to jail straightaway. The negligence shown by police could not be ignored, the CJ observed.

“What message have you given to the world about Pakistan,” he asked the DPO and said: “Nowhere in a civilised society such an incident takes place in the presence of police.”

He said the country was already facing disasters and crisis with people dying of hunger, but police were indulging in extra-judicial killings.

The chief justice deplored the apathy of top police officers and senior federal government officials who were aware of the incident.

“Not only it was the duty of police to stop those who were beating the two brothers, but the people in the mob should also have shown moral courage by preventing the beating,” the chief justice said.

Secretary establishment Ismail Qureshi, who had been urgently summoned, informed the court that there was no dearth of good and honest officers who could probe the matter independently.

The court ordered him to ask the Punjab government to take strict disciplinary action against Superintendent Police (investigations) Mohammad Afzal and DPO Chauhan.

The Inspector General of Punjab was directed to take strict action against the police officers who were present at the crime scene but did nothing to stop it. The case will be taken up again on Sept 1.

Our Sialkot Correspondent adds: District Police Officer Sialkot Waqar Ahmad Chauhan and SP investigation were made officer on special duty on Friday by the Inspector-General of Police, Punjab.

The police, meanwhile, registered a case against 14 policemen, including the suspended SHO, in the wake of the murder of two brothers on Aug 15.

Inspector Rana Mohammad Ilyas was SHO Sadar when the mob tortured the two brothers to death suspecting them to be robbers.


Posted by on August 21, 2010 in Insanity/brutality


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Quaid’s view of minorities

By I.A. Rehman
Saturday, 14 Aug, 2010

Quite a few groups and individuals wish to resurrect what they describe as Jinnah’s Pakistan. The argument in support of the effort is that decades of disregard for the Quaid-i-Azam’s vision of Pakistan has landed the country into one crisis after another and its future cannot be guaranteed without a return to its foundational premises.

Although the Quaid’s views on Pakistan’s ideal (he usually avoided the expression ‘ideology’) have not escaped controversy, there is substantial agreement among historians and analysts that he stood for a constitution framed by none else than the representatives of the people, a system of government that he described as people’s democracy, and full citizenship rights for the minorities.

These conclusions are mostly derived from the Quaid’s Aug 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly after he had been elected its president. While conscious and democratically-minded citizens have always held that in this speech the Quaid defined the essential and unalterable features of Pakistan’s polity, a few elements have tried to minimise its importance.

They have argued that the Quaid’s Aug 11 speech was not in harmony with the ideas he had consistently advanced. The Quaid-i-Azam had himself pointed out that he could not make “any well-considered pronouncement at this stage” and had said “a few things as they occur to me”. Through these observations he defined the priority tasks for the government: maintenance of law and order, “so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state”; elimination of the poison of bribery and corruption; eradication of black-marketing; and suppression of the evil of nepotism and jobbery.

These views had not been expressed by the Quaid for the first time. They had inspired his frequent attacks on the colonial administration in the course of his long and illustrious career as a parliamentarian. What followed his observations on governance was new because he was speaking about the state of Pakistan that was to come into being three days later. And what he said was this:

“Now if we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor … If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”

These words and his reference to the Muslims’ ceasing to be Muslims and the Hindus’ ceasing to be Hindus in the same speech, constituted the Quaid’s solution to the issue of religious minorities that had undermined the struggle for the subcontinent’s freedom for many decades.

Although communal differences had been accentuated during the 1857 uprising, the minority question acquired a new shape when Muslim leaders, Sir Syed in particular, gave vent to their fears of rule by elected representatives. For several decades they sought safeguards to which they were entitled as a minority. The failure of these attempts led the Muslim League to abandon the status of a minority and claim the rank of nationhood.

However, the formulation of the demand for a new nation-state called Pakistan did not end the minority issue. The authors of the Lahore Resolution of 1940 had themselves realised this when, after asking for the creation of independent states in Muslim-majority areas, they said:

“That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units (provinces) and in the regions (i.e. the Muslim zones) for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them; and in other parts of India where the Musalmans are in a minority, adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for them and other minorities, for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.”Soon after the Lahore Resolution was adopted questions about the fate of non-Muslims in the Muslim-majority provinces (zones) began to be raised. A group of Sikh representatives met the Quaid, and what did he tell them? Besides assuring the Sikhs of all the protection a religious minority was entitled to in a civilised state he offered them the status of an autonomous region within Punjab and told them that they would be better off in Pakistan than in India.

Those who argue that the Quaid’s defence of the non-Muslims’ right to equal status with Muslims in his Aug 11 speech was not a well-considered formulation may read the account of his press conference in Delhi a month earlier.
Asked to make a brief statement on the problem of minorities as Pakistan’s governor-general-designate, he said: “I shall not depart from what I have said repeatedly with regard to the minorities. Every time I spoke about the minorities, I meant what I said and what I said I meant. The minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion or their faith or belief will be protected in every way possible. Their life and property will be secure.

“There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their property and their culture. They will be in all respects treated as citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste, colour, religion or creed. They will have all their rights and privileges and also the obligations of citizenship. Therefore, the minorities have their responsibilities also and they will play their part in the affairs of the state. As long as the minorities are loyal to the state and owe true allegiance to it and as long as I have any power, they need have no apprehension of any kind.”

When pressed further on specific issues, such as separate electorates, he said: “I cannot go into these details. The actual provisions with regard to protection and safeguards can only be discussed in the two constituent assemblies in which the minorities are represented.”

The Quaid was asked to comment on the recent statements and the speeches by certain Congress leaders to the effect that if the Hindus in Pakistan are treated badly, they will treat Muslims in Hindustan worse. The answer was:

“I hope they will get over this madness and follow the line I am suggesting. It is no use picking up the statements of this man here or that man there. You must remember that in every society there are crooks, cranks and what I call mad people in every part of the world, and this is hardly the place where we can say, ‘what about this man’s statement and what about that man’s statement’.”

It was at this press conference that the Quaid-i-Azam was asked: “Will Pakistan be a secular or a theocratic state?” His reply was: “You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means.”

A correspondent suggested that a theocratic state meant a state where only people of a particular religion, for example Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslim would not be full citizens.

The Quaid said: “Then it seems to me that what I have already stated is like throwing water on a duck’s back. For goodness sake, get out of your head the nonsense that is being talked about. What this theocratic state means I do not understand.”

Another correspondent suggested that the questioner meant a state run by maulanas. The Quaid replied: “What about the government run by pandits in Hindustan?” When you talk of democracy I am afraid you have not studied Islam. We learnt democracy 13 centuries ago.”

It should not be difficult for any independent observer to conclude that even before Aug 11, 1947 the founder of Pakistan had a clear thesis on the rights of the minorities. The core elements of this thesis were:

— The Lahore Resolution called for mandatory safeguards drawn up in consultation with them.

— In July 1947 the Quaid made a pledge to the effect that the Constituent Assembly, in which the minorities are represented, will lay down safeguards in the constitution.

— Democracy is not incompatible with Islam, hence belief cannot be invoked to curtail the rights of the minorities.

In his Aug 11 speech the Quaid-i-Azam took a radical step beyond unexplained safeguards and called for excluding religion from the affairs of the state and offered the non-Muslim citizens complete equality with their Muslim compatriots. This may well have been the result of his reflection on what had happened between July 13 and Aug 11, 1947, especially the madness of communal slaughter and the exchange of population between the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs, a course he had ruled out in July.

The greatest irony about this address of historic importance is that it is generally believed to have addressed only the minorities’ rights. This is only partly true. The Quaid’s words were directed at all citizens of Pakistan; the progress of the entire population depended on burying the past (communal politics). What he clearly meant was that discrimination against the minorities would impede Pakistan’s progress. Thus, in Jinnah’s Pakistan the rights and interests of the minorities will be protected by the constitution and the law not only as something due to them but also as an insurance of the state’s integrity.

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Posted by on August 15, 2010 in Uncategorized


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How it is justified to demolish a Temple, but not a Mosque?

Respect for religion should be universal in approach and practice. Regardless of what you believe in, the Mosques, Churches, Temples, Gurdwaras, and any religious or spiritual place carry a special holiness and sanctity to everyone. The universality in his respect has to be maintained to have tolerance in society towards others beliefs. The whole debate on inter-faith has a meaning and aim behind it and it will just remain a debate if we from all religions do not go deep to get the gist of it.

I remember the anger, rage and frustration among all Muslims when Babri Mosque was demolished. The riots and protests got registered all over the world and the act appeared as the biggest example of intolerance and disrespect towards Muslims’ faith. But if something like this happens here in Pakistan then what should be our response? The only reason that we can get away with any such act here because Hindus are such a small and weak group. Having no say in decision making and no obvious presence in any political and social landscape has weakened them altogether.

To have a worship place is  a right of any community and demolishing any such place contrary to the wishes of people is a disrespect to every religion. If Muslims want respect for their religion and Mosques, they better pay the same respect to other religions and their worship places. It cannot be a win win situation for them anymore. Those who hurt other people emotions on bases of religion must know how it feels to get hurt in return….

Below is the story:

ISLAMABAD: Despite strong protest by Pakistan’s Hindu community, an 87-year-old pre-partition Hindu temple in Pakistan’s garrison town of Rawalpindi is facing demolition.

According to Jagmohan Kumar, the head of the Hindu community in Rawalpindi, the templewas being used by Hindus and Sikhs to perform last rituals of their dear ones.

According to the plaque fixed on the building, Lala Tansukh Rai, the Raees-e-Azam Rawalpindi, had constructed the temple in memory of his wife. “The ‘Shamshan Ghat’ is not only used by the locals but by the foreign missions of China and the Buddhist community as well”, Kumar said.

“The land for ‘Shamshan Ghat’ was allocated to the Hindus during the first tenure of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto when Kishan Chand Parwani was the federal minister for minorities in her cabinet. The temple is now being demolished while the open area is being maintained for the community”, he added.

According to Kumar, the original area of the ‘Shamshan Ghat’ land was 277 kanals and there were several temples along the Tipu Road and Nullah Leh. “Some of these temples were demolished before the partition while many were razed to ground after the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 in India. There were several temples in the adjacent localities of Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi where there are now residential apartments”.

Jagmohan asked how the Muslims would feel if there mosques were demolished for residential purpose.


RAWALPINDI, July 19: Hundreds of people from the Hindu community here on Monday took to the streets against the lessee of an ancient temple for pulling down half of its structure for commercial purposes.

The Muslim residents of the locality also joined the protesters to express solidarity with them and blocked the road for an hour. However, on the assurance of the police that the demolition work would be stopped, the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Talking to Dawn, Channa Lal, the Hindu priest for the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, claimed that it was the Hindu temple adjacent to shamshan ghat where religious rites were offered before cremating the body.

Hindu Sabha President Jag Mohan said they noticed some labourers demolishing the building and also digging its foundations on Monday morning. He said he along with some other people reached there and asked the labourers to stop work and produce orders.

He said the staff of Auqaf department also said the workers were not allowed to demolish the building.

Mr Mohan said before partition shamshan ghat spread over 277 kanals but when majority of Hindus migrated from the city the families left behind handed over the extra land to the government for educational purposes during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure.

He said at present the total area of the shamshan ghat including the temple building was over two kanals. The Auqaf department rented out the building to a welfare society despite protest by the Hindu community, he added.

He said in 2000 the welfare society failed to pay rent to the department after which the latter got the building vacated.

He said the Auqaf department later leased the building to one Raja Abdul Wahid who further leased it to a private media group in 2005. On the protest of the Hindu community, the department constituted a committee which declared that the building was not a temple.

“It is unfair that we have been offering religious rituals in the building for the last many years but the Auqaf department gave it to a private company for commercial purposes.”

He said over 100 Hindu families were living in the city and many foreigners including some diplomats also used the shamshan ghat for their religious rituals. When contacted, Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, a lawyer, said the Auqaf department cannot lease out worship places where religious rituals are performed. However, he said it can lease the property adjacent to worship places.

He also said the department can also rent out or lease those places which were abandoned for many years.

This reporter tried but could not contact Administrator Auqaf department Rawalpindi Noor Aslam Khan. However, Commissioner Zahid Saeed said the auqaf department was of the view that the building was not a temple so it leased it out. He said the Hindu members of the department had also verified that the building was not meant for a temple. The commissioner said he had directed the district coordination officer (DCO) to verify whether the building was a temple or not.

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Posted by on July 21, 2010 in Worship Places


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