Sheraniland: Sharia law needs saving from Mr Sherani

In the past 15 years alone, Pakistan has made great strides by introducing numerous laws to help embolden and empower its womenfolk. Unfortunately, for Pakistan’s women, putting pen to paper only creates the law. It doesn’t actually implement that law. Nor does that law act as a shield against Pakistan’s powerful yet disillusioned institution of bearded clerics with an agenda. Take for example, the current chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Maulana Sherani, whose favourite pastime (when not fist fighting other maulanas) is undoing centuries of incremental change in women’s rights with a quick brandishing of the religious zealot’s favourite weapon: the mighty, all-encompassing and all too frequently misinterpreted torch of Sharia law. To be ...

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They call it Taharrush gamea

Author’s note: Islam has nothing to do with taharrush gamea; the act contradicts the teachings of the religion. At the same time, there is no denying where the incidents are taking place, and who the perpetrators are. Denying this out of some misplaced sense of political correctness has only exacerbated the issue. Not surprisingly, the attacks are more sophisticated than a coordinated assault from a pack of hyenas. These are predators after all. The incidents usually take place in the cold black of the night at locations where women are more vulnerable; at the end of an alley, near a tunnel, in ...

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My argument in favour of a federation and why religion could not unite Pakistan

Pakistan displays strange contrasting patterns with respect to religion’s influence. Apparently, Pakistan looks to be a relatively moderate country, particularly when compared to the likes of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etcetera. Here the hardliners have never been voted in power through the ballot box. It has an independent media and relatively loose censorship standards. Radical Islam as a mode of life is still largely absent from the overall lifestyle of the Pakistanis as the country by no stretch of imagination is following the trajectory of Iran. It does not have a charismatic cultish religious leader like Khomeini and the public mood despite being conservative ...

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“Baaji, you never wear a dupatta. Does that mean you are also asking for it?”

It was a despairing day for humanity on Sunday when yet another report of a horrendous rape broke out of South Asia. A 14-year-old Indian girl bravely took to television to share her story. She had been gang raped by three men for two weeks in a dark room before being pitilessly shot after she had been told she was being let go. Speaking of her ordeal to the NDTV news network, the teenager said that the three attackers took turns to rape her over a two-week period. “After a fortnight of repeated abuse, one night they said they will let me go. ...

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The loving humanitarian efforts of an American in Pakistan

Due to frequent media images of violent anti-American protests as well as repeated travel-safety warnings from the State Department, most Americans avoid visiting Pakistan. However, Todd Shea, the founder of Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS), has adopted Pakistan as his home and is running several welfare projects there. I learnt about Todd Shea on Facebook several months ago when I was browsing through a list of ‘People you may know’. Pleasantly surprised to learn about the humanitarian work he was doing in Pakistan, I began to closely follow CDRS activities on social media. The 2005 earthquake and the great need to help its victims brought Shea to ...

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She was 13 and he was 39

The 15-year-old girl from Lahore gave her “consent” and he was her “boyfriend”, and so it is not rape, they say. This case is garnering a very expected response. But why are we surprised? It reminds me of a case I came across a while back. A 13-year-old girl fell for her 39-year-old neighbour. They started chatting via the internet. One day, when she was home alone, he coerced her into having a sexual encounter. Reality was not as the girl had imagined. When it actually happened, she yelled, cried and resisted but was raped. But the men in her ...

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Is Modi’s visit to Lahore being overshadowed by the Pathankot attack?

The impromptu visit of the Indian prime minister to Lahore on his way back from Kabul took everyone, including the Indian media, by surprise. Both the Indian public and the media sang praises for the statesmanship shown by both Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif for initiating confidence-building measures to put the peace process back on track. Nawaz broke protocol by receiving Modi at the airport and also seeing him off. Similarly, all leading newspapers of Pakistan welcomed Modi’s visit to Lahore in the hope that the stalled peace dialogue would be resumed in the interest of both the countries. [caption ...

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If we can get a foreign passport, why can’t Adnan Sami get Indian nationality?

Recently, Adnan Sami Khan acquired the Indian nationality; this has infuriated many urban middle-class Pakistanis who think that he has committed some sort of ‘treason’ by becoming an Indian citizen. What is ironic is that some of my friends, who happen to be non-resident Pakistanis, are also raising severe objections. I find this reaction rather perplexing and even objectionable. First of all, Adnan Sami Khan is an independent individual who has found fame and glory in India and his adopting Indian nationality is a reflection of this fact. India has made him far more famous and rich than he could ever be in Pakistan. ...

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Overcoming the fatal product of your imagination

When I was 10-years-old, I accidentally fell into a swimming pool. I had never learnt to swim. I flailed my arms, but it did no good. I felt myself drowning. I still remember the terror as the dark water surrounded me. I gasped for air and my mouth was filled with water. At the last moment, a life guard noticed my plight. He jumped in and pulled me out. This experience sank into my subconscious mind. The result was that for years I feared the water. Then one day I mentioned this irrational fear of mine to a wise, elderly psychologist. “Go down to ...

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Five legal milestones from 2015 that Pakistan should take pride in

With the Pakistan Protection Act, cybercrime bills and the 21st Amendment, it’s been a tough year for human rights. Yet our courts have been actively making progressive human rights decisions which require a more in depth consideration.  Here are five cases which represent good law: 1) Mumtaz Qadri versus The State Judgment by Asif Saeed Khan Khosa Supreme Court The Supreme Court’s judgment in Mumtaz Qadri’s case held that statements made by Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, though unsubstantiated, were criticisms of the blasphemy law, which is not blasphemy itself. Taseer had made allusions to it being a “Black Law” amended by an unrepresentative military dictator that had ...

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