Stories about extremism

Defy Pakistan: How the right-wing turned rogue

The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) is a tightly-held multi-party alliance of some 40 parties representing all shades of the country’s religious right-wing. It is led by veteran cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, who is popularly known as the father of the Taliban. The alliance is founded upon a single anti-US agenda, to drive out the Nato forces in the region and sprang up soon after Pak-US relations took a nosedive post the Salala bombing. After some low-key, closed door seminars on Pak-US relations, the alliance took to rallies, the first of which was staged at the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore. This rally was an ...

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Don’t let mullahs take over Pakistan

I had goosebumps reading the recent news that several criminals gathered in Lahore under the banner of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and aligned themselves with the Pakistan Army. Was it a conspiracy to malign the army, I wondered. Who could be behind this? You see, I have no sympathy for characters like Hafiz Saeed who have eroded Pakistani society and have pushed it in a state of profound crisis. Our health, livelihood, the quality of our environment, our social relationships, our ideology, economy, and politics have all been affected. It is a crisis of intellectual, moral, and spiritual dimensions; a crisis ...

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Shouldn’t intelligence be smarter?

It is imperative and a pre-requisite of a sound counter-terrorism (CT) strategy that a country’s intelligence community is held together by a central coordinating body. The rules of engagement have drastically changed as well as the characteristic of current and potential adversaries. Presently, the adversary is a non-state entity which cannot be contained and countered with conventional military tactics and regular intelligence processes. Pakistan is not battling a country with a visible infrastructure nor a proper command and control structure that takes orders after much strategic analysis and threat assessments. We are confronting a terrorist network. And in order to disrupt and ...

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Video Blog: Voices from Pakistan

The international media has always shown Pakistani people reacting and protesting on TV screens, with the opinions of these people expressed in minimal headlines, skimmed and forgotten. Behind each of these headlines, are real people, with real issues and perspectives. This documentary explores the diverse spectrum of perspectives among Pakistanis, up close and personal, detailing the conflicts of opinions between them over various issues, in particular, the Facebook related blasphemy incident (also known as Draw Prophet Muhammad Day) which resulted in Pakistan’s authorities blocking major websites. The documentary goes beyond just that incident and touches other international issues too that cause ...

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Fight religious extremism, with religion

Aqib took a sip of cappuccino at a Starbucks outlet in the Canary Wharf area of London. He graduated from LSE last year and is now working as an investment banker at one of the world’s leading bank (albeit a bailed out one after the 2008 economic meltdown). Pointing out the economic prosperity of London, he confidently exclaimed: “We have invested too much in religion whilst the West has excelled in all discipline of sciences. Look, all this development took place in the last 100 year or so when the West shunned religion and secularism took a stronghold in public decision making.” Aqib, ...

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Assaulted for wearing a sleeveless shirt

It was only a matter of time anyway. A few days ago, a police officer along with his squad burst into the Nairang Art Gallery and beat up the female curator for wearing a sleeveless dress and interacting with men. The police officer, a SHO, was perturbed by the ‘fahash’ ambience of the place. After being assaulted the woman and her colleagues who came to her rescue were taken to the police station and booked under an obsolete ordinance. Nairang Art Gallery is a work of devotion to art, literature, music and design by the iconic architect Nayyer Ali Dada. Some say ...

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Tableeghi Jamaat: Playing politics

The Sharifs, who portray themselves as the torch-bearers of principled politics, have by their actions shown themselves quite otherwise. In other words, they have shown that when it comes to garnering votes, they have no problem courting the conservative and right-wing elements of society. A war of words keeps erupting between Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over issues of religious extremism, banned outfits and existence of the Taliban in southern Punjab. The former makes the allegations and the latter denies all of them, saying that no such thing is happening in his province. In the ...

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The domino effect of terrorism

While the dictionary defines it as the “use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims there is no unanimous legal definition of ‘terrorism’ If it was up to me, I would define it as a continual dose of fear that creates uncertainty, distrust and melancholy. That melancholy triggers depression, which in turn gives birth to numerous psychological ailments. Recently, a noted psychiatrist from Peshawar, Dr Khalid Mufti, released a survey report, conducted under his supervision by an NGO called Horizon. According to the survey, 80 per cent of South and North Waziristan residents are suffering from mental illness while ...

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The Gojra case: Between sanity and madness

Toba Tek Singh, a city in Punjab was immortalised by Saadat Hasan Manto’s short story of the same name. The story, based a few years after Partition, chronicles the lives of a bunch of lunatics living in an asylum, unable to fathom whether they are in Pakistan or India. The story itself is a gripping indictment of the senseless events that occurred during Partition as the characters remain deluded somewhere between sanity and madness. In many ways, this enduring legacy of Partition still remains as a black spot on Pakistan’s identity. In 2009, riots broke out in the outlying ...

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NY’s reaction to Osama’s death: The other side of extremism

Growing up in Lahore, the monsoon was my favourite season – those muggy, motionless afternoons when the air suddenly exploded into a river of orange rumbling down from the sky, leaving jungles in its wake. In the Bay Area, every balmy day of the year was beautiful except for the miserable characterless spluttering they called “rain.” In Ithaca, my favourite season was Autumn – a fire dance in the sky, bold and blazing, curling flames at your feet. And, in New York, it has to be spring, the teenage of nature, blooming poetry from every stem, every lilting branch a breathtaking ballet ...

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