Stories about minority rights

Our little heroine

She stings when she speaks, And she speaks like no other, She has sharp features, And she taunts like my mother.   In a land like Pakistan, She enjoys the Indian summer, She reminds me of that chicken, From the cartoon, Road Runner.   She’s our proverbial grandma, Whom we don’t have to teach, Even though we still judge, How she speaks for her deeds.   She’s the best of the best, At the practice of peace, Known as “little heroine”, Since the good old eighties!   Not in popularity contest, She rose to prominence; She had nerves to fight dictators, Questioning the Hudood Ordinance!   She’s been beaten, tear gassed, And at one time house-arrested, For the rights of our minorities, She has always protested!   She’s been vilified and hated, By the experts ...

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Contradicting the Constitution (il)legally

“Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures… Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes… No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law… All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law… There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex… No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment… The State ...

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Undoing religious intolerance – undoing the second amendment

Religious clerics in Pakistan celebrate September 7th as a day of victory for Islam and Pakistan. Officially dubbed the “Khatme Nubuwwat Day” or “Finality of Prophethood Day,” many mosques come alive with celebrations this day, sweets are distributed and intense speeches are made in large religious gatherings.  Forty years ago this day, Pakistan passed the second amendment to its Constitution, forcibly declaring the Ahmadis non-Muslim. With the stroke of a pen, the Ahmadis had been snatched of their basic right to self-identity at the insistence of the very clerics who had opposed Jinnah in his rightful struggle. It was this day that Pakistan started drifting away from ...

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All PTI did was talk about alternatives

I write this piece as I see tear gas shelling and aerial firing towards massive crowds that are protesting peacefully outside the Prime Minister House. I write this as we hear of a girl from Dera Ghazi Khan who set herself on fire after not getting justice from the police for gang rape, and now her mother is part of the Azadi dharna in hope that her daughter’s death would not go to waste. I write this as I see our police become a mercenary force for a ‘supposedly’ democratic government that has taken on the role of, what I have often heard ...

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I will not celebrate August 14

August 14, 2009 I decided not to celebrate August 14th this year to show my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the nine innocent Christian citizens of Gojra, who were killed and their homes lit on fire. On this day, I will hang the Pakistani flag at half mast, will switch off my television, have none of those ‘milli naghmay’ and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and deeply distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to apologise and express my grief, pain and sorrow. August 14, 2010 94 people were killed and more than 120 injured when the places of ...

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The importance we (don’t) give our country

When one thinks about Pakistan, what is it that comes to mind? For some, it’s a land with troubled tribal areas or a cradle for terrorism. For many, it’s a haven for corrupt politicians, backed by a corrupt legislation and a flawed constitution. And for others, it’s just a mistake that Mr Jinnah made 67 years ago. If you ask a young, college-going boy about what Pakistan is to him, he will probably say that it’s, “A country in which I was born, raised and taught the tricks of getting my way in the world either by hook or by crook. A ...

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Don’t worry Pakistani immigrant, the West will not treat you the way you treat your minorities

Migrating to a Western country has many perks. Considering Pakistan’s current situation, it’s quite natural for people to look for opportunities elsewhere, and migrating to a more developed country is usually one of the most sought-after solutions. Those who can avail it, almost always take the opportunity as soon as it presents itself. So, it is disheartening to see some of those very people crying wolf on the smallest of issues and basing it on the religion they belong to or the country they originate from. Here is an instance where I experienced such behaviour first-hand. One fine evening, I bumped into an acquaintance ...

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A royal massacre

It is one thing to be a bystander to animal cruelty but it is an entirely different thing to stormily strike and wound a living creature and then have the nerve to back your sadism with a very exasperating false impression of royalty. A  Saudi prince comes to our homeland, gets a ‘special permit’ to kill a 100 protected houbara bustards, multiplies 100 by 21 and without any hesitation winds up by killing nearly 2100 birds instead. What’s even more appalling is how easily this royal walks away from this heinous indulgence without being stopped or having to face any repercussion. Since ...

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They can force them to convert to Islam but they can’t win their hearts!

As an expatriate boy growing up in Saudi Arabia, I dreaded attending my school’s mandatory afternoon prayer session. At the end of every long day in Manarat Al-Sharkia, all the Muslim students and teachers gathered before the final two classes to offer Zuhr (noon) prayers in the school’s stinking gym that carried a rancid air powerful enough to rival Hitler’s infamous gas chamber. By prayer time, the gym’s floor had already been saturated by the sweet-smelling sweaty socks of hundreds of young perspiring boys. Thankfully, the school management realised that the gym’s surface was probably host to a number of diseases ...

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Sawan Masih: Another injustice in the name of justice!

It appears that the public would rather Sawan jaey, than Sawan aaey. Sawan Masih, 26-years-old, a poor cleaner and the father of two, was arrested last year for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks during an argument.  He protested his innocence saying that there was a property dispute concealed under the accusation of blasphemy but to no avail. Sawan and his family lived in Lahore’s Joseph Colony with other Christian families, clustered together for safety. Unfortunately, the numbers on ‘the other side’ were far greater. When the above event occurred, a mob composed of some 3,000 people attacked Joseph Colony for several days, forcing the inhabitants to leave. When this mob destroyed a hundred ...

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