Stories about Hindus in Pakistan

Krishna Kohli’s appointment is a calculated move by PPP, not an end to caste discrimination

In 1950, Pakistan’s first Minster of Law and Labour, and the second Minister of Commonwealth and Kashmir Affairs, Jogendra Nath Mandal, fled to India after submitting his resignation letter to the then Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. One major concern that forced him to resign was the dismal future of Dalits in Pakistan. In his resignation letter, he mentioned institutionalised and systematic discrimination against Dalits. Today, there is hardly any mention of him in our books, politics or our media, even though he was a close ally of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The principal objectives that once prompted Mandal to work in co-operation with the Muslim ...

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Dear Pakistan and India, stop trying to convert your minorities

My attention was recently drawn to a news story according to which non-Muslim employees of Mian Mir hospital in Lahore are forced to recite verses from the Holy Quran daily at the morning assembly. The news further stated that those who refused to do so were penalised by being marked absent for the day (and thereby losing a day’s wages). If true, this is indeed shocking news. Once a non-Muslim says the words of the Kalima, he or she automatically is converted to Islam, and cannot go back to his or her original religion. It goes without saying that such men or women cannot continue ...

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Why is there a religion column in advertisements for sweepers anyway?

Whenever a local body like a municipal or town committee advertises for jobs involving ‘dirty work’ (like sweeping floors or cleaning bathrooms), the religion of those applying for the job is also specified. And the advertisement usually mentions that the applicants should be Christians or Hindus (Dalits). Though why sweepers and cleaners have to be non-Muslims is not clear. Who does the dirty work in countries where there are few, or no, Christians or Hindus (like Saudi Arabia for instance)? One such advertisement went viral recently. But this time the advertisement stated that applicants for the job should be “Shia, Hindu/Balmikis or ...

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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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You can’t run to America anymore Pakistan, time to fix yourself now!

The mayor of a small West Virginia town has resigned after facing backlash following the endorsement of a Facebook post calling Michelle Obama an ape in heels and thus became the poster woman of the America that will now be made great. This might trigger some pretty intense flashbacks for some Pakistanis (hint: Tractor trolleys) but of course in this country, resigning isn’t a thing. Although mortified apologies have been made, the fact is no one really believed that the US would become what it is at this moment (except for my mum), that Trump would win (mum called it), that ...

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The Noorani attack proves Pakistan will continue being religiously intolerant

A few days ago, a friend of mine (who is a renowned activist) jokingly made a comment on Facebook that no suicide bomber would ever consider detonating in Lasbela, Balochistan because it’s unbelievably hot there; no bomber is mad enough to kill himself in such scorching heat. Alas, he was proven wrong. On Saturday, a young suicide bomber targeted a Sufi shrine near Lasbela, killing around 60 people and injuring more than a 100. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and right now, I wish – as insensitive as that joke was – that my friend had been right. His words ...

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I found peace between Sunnis and Shias in a foreign land

I am a strong proponent of secular democracy; a system which rejects faith based politics and prioritises merit over clan, cast or creed. Living in a country which has been officially atheist for the past six decades has compelled me to ponder over the importance of religion in our private lives. I do not endorse a collective representation of religion. Beliefs are cloned and individuals start idolising practices that don’t do justice to religion. Realism is suppressed which leads to the acceptance of a system that is theocratic in spirit but claims to take people to the highest abode by trampling over people ...

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Aansoo Kohli: A candle in the wilderness, a teardrop of inspiration

Exiting the Super Highway just outside Hyderabad city and taking the bypass to Mirpurkhas, dense mango orchards with rows upon rows of mature mango trees greet you. You drive past the Sindh Agricultural University Tando Jam, pleasantly surprised by its well-maintained, imposing buildings and its immaculate grounds. The dual-carriage highway from Hyderabad to Mirpur Khas has to be one of the best, smoothest roads anywhere in the country. Just before Mirpur Khas, we turn off the highway onto a single track, bumpy, side road to the town of Kunri. Fields of sugarcane, banana, mustard, onions and other veggies on either ...

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Don’t demolish Balaknash temple, Pakistan!

This year I had the opportunity to participate in the Janmashtami festival, the Hindu festival in which they celebrate the birth Hindu god Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Hindu god, Vishnu. The festival is celebrated on the eight day of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month August or September. As I entered the Gracy Lines area in Rawalpindi, I asked for directions to the Balaknash Temple, an 82-year-old temple that will be demolished soon along with 53 quarter houses. It is surrounded by FWO flats. As a guard at the check point told me where to go, he asked inquisitively ...

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What Maulana Sahib taught me and what I learnt from him…

“Hello, dear. How was your day?”  “Good, Mom,” replied Hina Khaleej as she walked into the house.  Her mother was washing dishes in the kitchen. She asked, “How is Jenny? Are you still mad at her?” Opening the refrigerator, Hina poked her head inside looking for something to eat and replied, “No, we’ve worked things out. Mom, I can’t wait for the picnic tomorrow. It will be so much fun! And I would’ve been so bored if Jenny and I hadn’t patched up.” Hina and Jenny had been best friends since kindergarten and although they fought quite often, their bond was unbreakable. They were ...

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