Stories about Aasia Bibi

Does Pakistan have the moral ground to criticise religious persecution in India?

Now that the adrenaline from listening to Imran Khan’s powerful speech at the United Nations (UN) has subsided, it is a good time for some introspection. India’s descent into fascism has caused justified outrage amongst the people of Pakistan. Its treatment of a minority Muslim population has filled our hearts with pain. But has it also awakened us to the hypocrisy of our nation? We ask the world to step in to save Muslims in India, but we also want ambivalence from the world towards how minorities are treated in Pakistan. Last year, when America added Pakistan to a list of ...

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When will people like Khateeb stop using a peaceful religion as a tool for violence?

A frightening incident recently took place in Bahawalpur in which a student fatally stabbed his teacher. The teacher wanted to organise a welcome party which the said student considered ‘un-Islamic’ due to the intermingling of males and females. In a chilling confessional video, the student alleged that the late professor used to ‘insult’ Islam on a regular basis. He showed absolutely no remorse for his action, and when asked as to why he didn’t take the legal route, his answer was that courts in Pakistan are freeing ‘blasphemers’. A student of 5th semester at Govt Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur who identifies himself as Khateeb Hussain when ...

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The year of the judge

Sylvester Stallone is a great actor, especially after he’s had a few punches to his jaw. If you were a kid growing up in the 80s, Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the primary Hollywood heroes giving young men around the world bodybuilding goals. It was, of course, better to watch them than the flogging of criminals on national television during the Ziaul Haq era. One particularly provocative Stallone film which turned out to be a cult classic over the years was Judge Dredd. The idea that a police officer had the authority to carry out justice on the streets – ...

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Master of U-turns, leader of none

A few days ago, a statement made by Prime Minister Imran Khan started to generate a lot of interest on all media forums. Imran, who is also satirically called “U-turn Khan” for his habit of retracting his lofty statements, tried to defend this practice by stating that a true leader always takes a timely U-turn. Elaborating, he then came up with the analogy of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte’s fatal decision to continue their advance into Russia instead of taking a U-turn, an error which resulted in heavy casualties. According to Imran, “One who doesn’t take decisions according to the demand of ...

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In Naya Pakistan, we give great speeches… but that’s about it

It will not be an overstatement to suggest that the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi on the charges of blasphemy against her was a historic moment for Pakistan, one that will not be forgotten anytime soon, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. The entire country was brought to a lock down once again, as anti-state actors (they cannot simply be called protestors) questioned and protested a verdict reached by a bench of judges deeply familiar with the intricacies of the case and actually qualified to judge them. As the country waited for the government of Naya Pakistan to ...

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Is it really the end of the Islamic State?

On November 21, 2017, media outlets reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the end of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Soon after, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with Syria’s Bashar al Assad, and then with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, all three intent on reinforcing their hegemonies. Regime change in Syria now seems even more unlikely, not to mention justice for the victims of Assad’s war crimes. Erdogan will continue to silence opposition and allocate more resources in his offensive against the Kurds, while Putin strengthens ties with two allies in the Middle East. Thus, even without the IS, the ...

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How India and Pakistan are afflicted by the same madness of religious vigilantism

The issue of cow slaughter and the consumption of beef has been an issue that many orthodox Hindus have found an affront to their religion. Blasphemous speech, in regards to orthodox Muslims and their reverence for the Prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt), produces a similar sentiment of outrage. This sense of outrage has led to the phenomenon of religious vigilantism. Yet, it seems that this malaise, which was once a rare occurrence in the early history of both India and Pakistan, has transformed and metastasised into a cancer that is permeating the very fabric of each nations’ respective society. Justification through legislation Pakistan In 1986, Pakistan, ...

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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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Sorry Bilawal, Pakistan’s misogyny will always confuse sensitivity with femininity

“Aur tu aur Billo Rani bheebol rahi hai. Asif Zardari sahib, itna haram kamaia aap ne, thora sa Bilawal per lagain aur us ka technical masla theek karain.” (Now even Billo Rani is speaking. Asif Zardari, please devote some of your illegal wealth towards rectifying Bilawal’s technical problem). “Mein ne siyasat mein naheen aana, kyon ke Sheikh Rashid mujhe har roz gandy gandy messages karta hai.” (I don’t want to come into politics because Sheikh Rashid sends me dirty texts every day. The first of the above is an excerpt from Sheikh Rasheed’s speech in 2014, and the latter is one of the Facebook memes I ...

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Will Pakistan be able to #SaveNabeel?

In September, Nabeel Masih, a sixteen-year-old Christian boy was charged under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. His crime was ‘liking’ a post that allegedly ‘defamed and disrespected’ the Kaaba. Over a month later the police have yet to submit an initial investigation report to the courts. This means Nabeel is currently languishing in jail. His family has been forced into hiding and, fearing for their safety, many of his Christian neighbours have fled the area. Fair trials are uncommon in blasphemy law cases. Should Nabeel have a proper and fair day in court he’d likely be found not guilty for two reasons. First, there is ...

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