Remembering the ones we lost too soon

It seems like the year 2016 just started a while back, but here we are, just a few days shy from welcoming 2017. A lot happened last year which took us by surprise and shocked us. But even amidst such unpredictability, we were not prepared to see some of the deaths that came our way. Some were lost to old age, some to disease and some to murder. But regardless, they were all taken too soon. Here are some of those names, in no particular order. Peter Vaughan Photo: IMDb Even though he had a career spanning 75 years, ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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Jewish-Muslim hate: A manufactured enterprise of illegitimate rulers

On November 14, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) formed a new national group known as Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC). They announced three initial action items as follows: 1. The Council will highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society, and aim to celebrate their contributions in the best traditions of American democracy. 2. The Council will develop a coordinated strategy to address anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism in the US. 3. The Council will work to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities in the US, as enshrined in the Constitution, so they may practice their faiths in full freedom ...

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If oil rich Arab countries can support the Palestinians, why not the Rohingya refugees?

A 2015 Amnesty report declared the stateless Rohingya of Burma to be the most persecuted refugees in the world. Their Burmese majority tormenters are trapped between a forgiveness shortfall and a surfeit of rancour at the abortive Rohingya attempt to be annexed by East Pakistan in 1948 followed by an armed insurgency seeking autonomy or independence.  Reprisals have devastated the civilian population. There are currently 140,000 Rohingya refugees mired in squalor in Bangladesh, India and Thailand in the latest phase of their on-going exodus. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called the violence against the Rohingya a “slow genocide”. On November 30th, France 24 broadcasted that a concerted crackdown from ...

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The minority protection bill is both Islamic and constitutional

The Sindh Criminal (Protect of Minorities) Bill 2016, passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly seeks to outlaw forced conversions. This has led to a backlash from certain quarters, the self-styled thekaydars of Islam in particular, who say that the bill is unconstitutional and unIslamic.  Unfortunately, these people who are agitating against the law have neither an understanding of the constitution nor that of Islam. But then very few people, including I am sad to say our black coat brethren, have any understanding of constitutional law. “Holy Quran and Sunnah are supreme under the Pakistani constitution” they scream. Their reference is to ...

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Reassessing what it means to be a Pakistani Muslim immigrant in Canada

While I sip tea and watch my children play around in our almost four-year-old home in Canada, I can’t help but reassess what it means to be me, as 2016 comes to an end – a Pakistani Muslim immigrant in Canada. I can’t help but feel this warmth for this great nation’s hospitality and heart. At the same time, like an itchy throat signalling the onset of a ruthless flu, I shift uncomfortably in my seat as corroborated stats show the rise and effect of hate crimes across Canada. I can’t help but remember last year’s shootings in Ottawa and how Canadian Muslims were shoved ...

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Have you forgotten what India did to Nepal and Kashmir, Mr Ashraf Ghani?

We were not very surprised when you, Mr Ashraf Ghani, at the Heart of Asia conference in India, conveniently forgot how much Pakistan has done for your country. You criticised Pakistan viciously and blamed it for the problems that you are facing and are not able to resolve. You must have been a young man when the Soviet Union invaded your country in 1979 and ruled it for nine years. While Pakistan immediately condemned the invasion, along with most of the civilised world, India supported the Soviets. When most countries, including Pakistan, refused to send their teams to the Moscow ...

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Is the Pak-Cheen dosti really that zindabad?

‘Pak-Cheen Dosti Zindabad!’ is a household anthem, isn’t it? A sea-pack, sorry, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) appears to be Pakistan’s Achilles heel. Under this partnership, Pakistan is to receive a $51 billion investment over the course of three to eight years in the form of power projects, roads and railway upgrades, transmission lines, infrastructure, hospitals, technology and much more. Undoubtedly, such an investment is a welcome sign for Pakistan but the deal is strategically far more important to China than it is to Pakistan. We were on the brink of dragging the over-burdening economy with no imminent increase in exports, tax revenues, ...

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Water shortage: How long will Balochistan have to suffer?

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Balochistan is the most fragile province in Pakistan. Its fragility is further exacerbated by multiple conflicts – sectarian militancy, ethnic fault lines, violence, extremism, corruption and lack of development which widely plague the province. Though the root causes of turmoil in Balochistan are complex, after reflecting on my visit to the province, I have narrowed the factors down to three underlying causes: corruption, mis-governance and neglect. The most serious crisis Balochistan is facing at the moment is a water shortage of a catastrophic level. The province is situated in an arid zone that experiences lower levels of rainfall. ...

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Islam does NOT stop a transgender person from performing religious duties

About a month ago, a violent video was circulated on social media which showed a gang of men in Pakistan viciously flogging a transgender as a ‘punishment for her bad habits’. While many people belonging to various sectors of Pakistani society condemned the series of human rights violations of transgender people on a local front, there comes yet another news that is sad and terrifying; this time a global one. Saudi Arabia has formally banned transgender people from even visiting the country. It doesn’t end there – they have also been banned from performing the religious pilgrimage, Umrah. The pilgrimage can be performed ...

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