Stories about Salman Taseer

The world will judge Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam

A year ago, the government took a bold decision by hanging Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of late Salman Taseer. The funeral, despite the media’s lack of coverage, was attended by thousands of people, highlighting the appeal of a man who was nothing but a murderer. One year later, thousands of hardliners defied the rally ban to attend his first death anniversary. The sad reality is that for many, Qadri is a hero, and the significant percentage of those who disagree with his actions have an “empathetic” attitude towards him. I have heard people coming up with all kinds of justifications ...

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The mantle of religious interpretation needs to be taken away from the clergy

I have often been more amazed not at the religious fanaticism of the few, but at passivity of the moderate majority. And although sceptics will cast their doubt, the fact is that Pakistan on the whole has a moderate population. In Pakistan, comparable fervour is dominant only in pockets. Yes, this is a country which has Taliban but it is also a country where people have largely voted for moderate parties. This is a country which despite being conservative has never voted the clergy into power. It has a relatively independent media and entertainment avenues are more eclectic compared to ...

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Remember this image, O’holy Muslim brethren?

Does anyone remember this image? It’s not that old. But I suppose it has been forgotten. Let me remind you. This image is less than three-years-old. This is March 2013, Lahore. Triumphant and probably feeling much closer to God, this man stands before a burning heap of what was once a Christian colony. In November, three years before that, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi was charged with accusations of blasphemy and she sits in jail to this date. In March 2015, two churches were attacked in Lahore and 14 people were killed. The same year, just a month or two later, a ...

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How I survived four and a half years in captivity

August 26, 2011, an ordinary day. I was driving to work on the same road in Lahore that I took every day, and my mind was busy with the mundane. A car blocked the road, but I didn’t give it much thought. Then five masked men put a gun to my head, pulled me out of the car and my world spun horribly out of control. Right now, I can’t tell all of the details of my capture or my release for security reasons. Someday I hope to be able to recount the full story. But I can say for ...

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Donald Trump as US president would trump rationality and tolerance

The distinction between the religious right-of-centre and the loony religious right is more pronounced in the west as compared to India and Pakistan, where the difference is usually a blur. An example of this is David Cameron referring to anti-Muslim bigots engaging in violent hate crimes. He said this amounts to them being no different to jihadists. The conventional interpretation about endorsing a holy war against evils within oneself or an armed struggle in case of violation of one’s rights against the specific aggressors only after peaceful modes of conflict resolution have now been exhausted. Furthermore, former Muslims’ endorsing violent interpretations should not ...

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What happens when you have no freedom of speech?

Censorship is nothing new. Journalists constantly face threats that come from many different sources – government, extremists and control of the media itself. Over the years, many have been hacked to death, brutally attacked and robbed of their right to free speech. Unfortunately, Pakistan is the 4th most dangerous country for journalists. Is this ranking fair though? For the longest time, Pakistanis have been clamouring for the abolition of their country’s biggest threats to free speech – the blasphemy law. This law has been misused on various occasions, starting from Aasia bibi to Shama and Shahzad, the Christian couple and Governor Salman ...

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Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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The hypocrisy of Muslim outrage in Pakistan

I’m sure everyone remembers Ahmed Mohammed, the clock boy. Does everyone also remember the furor it caused in the pious Muslim circles? Sure, it was pretty ridiculous of the authorities to nab him from his school in the US and it was fairly stupid of them to mistake a homemade clock for a bomb but I do remember the self-righteous outrage in the circles that generally wouldn’t do this ‘please share to spread awareness’ kind of thing if the subject was Naveed Rafique.  Who is Naveed Rafique you ask? He is a 13-year-old boy from Jaranwala, Punjab. Naveed was a position holder in his ...

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Poor little rich boy

Three days ago, Shaan Taseer, a forty-something scion of one of the wealthiest families in Pakistan trashed a couple of college students half his age, over a school project. The attack was sexist, classist — and public. And, it went downhill from there. Taseer’s delicate sensibilities were initially offended by the students’ small protest-art installation comprising of 25 sanitary napkins taped to a wall inside their school campus. The seven friends, young women and men, hoped to stir a conversation about the body shaming that accompanies the onset of menstruation. Instead, the students, particularly two of the women, were singled out for verbal ...

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Does the death penalty target criminals or the poor?

A damning report places Pakistan as third in the list of countries where the most number of executions took place in 2015, after China and Iran and before Saudi Arabia and the United States. In other compelling statistics, in 2014, the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan ranked third in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe. In 2012, we had the most number of people (28 million) affected by war and conflict. Along with other South Asian countries, Pakistan ranks high in hunger and malnutrition statistics, with about 41 million people undernourished in the period 2014-16, a whopping 22 per ...

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