Stories about hudood ordinance

Remembering Asma Jahangir: A democrat in a country that loved dictators

“Pakistan cannot live in isolation. We cannot remain shackled while other women progress.” – Asma Jahangir A year ago, when the news came in that Jahangir had passed away, I felt like I no longer recognised the legal system I had worked so hard to become a part of. To understand why, let me tell you a little bit about who Jahangir was. Jahangir was a woman who was born a democrat in a country that loved dictators. The Convent of Jesus and Mary may have been the first to discover this. The Convent had a system for selecting their head girl ...

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NA-4: PPP, a party once truly federal in nature, getting votes from all corners of the country, today finds itself confined to rural Sindh

The constituency of NA-4 has given its verdict, giving Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) an important victory with a comfortable margin. Just like NA-120 was Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) litmus test of popularity after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, this by-election was PTI’s. This election was in many ways indicative of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) electorate appraisal of PTI’s performance in the province. The comfortable margin of this victory has rejuvenated PTI, and to a certain extent, has provided a glimpse of its electoral prospects in the upcoming general elections of 2018. However, this by-election was not just about PTI but also about its contenders, both at the ...

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Do Pakistani female legislators actually represent women or merely serve as “proxies” for the wealthy and elite?

In the male dominated South Asian region, women are considered a marginalised faction of society. While describing South Asian women in politics, there are contradicting accounts. On one hand, there are examples of women like Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Hasina Wajid and Khaleda Zia as prime ministers, while on the other, the majority of women are seen as poor, illiterate and lacking political, social and economic opportunities. A general perception ascribed to women in South Asian politics is that they belong to higher social strata and certain political parties, which aides their journey into the mainstream political arenas. However, women in general still lack the opportunities to participate and represent in the ...

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After Benazir, PPP is no longer representative of all of Pakistan the way it used to be

I still remember that moment. I had just entered the Cuckoo’s Den, the famed restaurant in Lahore, overlooking the monumental Badshahi Mosque. That was my first visit to the restaurant and I had brought two of my office colleagues with me. It was early evening and the restaurant was slightly deserted. The phone rang. It was my younger brother on the line. “Raza, where are you? Please come back home immediately. Benazir has been assassinated,” he said in a very distressed voice. I almost fainted as I could not believe the news. I had to gather myself and inform my friends. We all agreed ...

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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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Let us return to March 23, 1940, and start over, Pakistan

On March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted a historic resolution in the city of Lahore. This resolution has since come to be known as the Pakistan Resolution as it became the forerunner to the formal demand for an independent nation state for the Muslims of India. The following is an extract that provides the essence of this resolution: “Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle, namely, that geographically ...

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‘Honour’ killings must be exposed for the inhuman, senseless horror that they are!

Three incidents in the past month have brought honour killings to the forefront of national discourse in Pakistan. On April 19th in Jhelum, a man shot his daughter and her husband along with two members of the husband’s family. By going against his wishes and marrying the man of her choice, she had ‘dishonoured’ him. On April 28th, a 20-year-old man stabbed his sister to death after he overheard her talking to a boy on the phone. On the same day, a 16-year-old girl was drugged, strangulated to death and placed in the back seat of a van which was then set on fire. According to ...

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In Pakistan, we have 13-year-old rape victims

The terrible news of a 13-year-old girl, raped and impregnated by her teacher in Larkana, Sindh, breaks the heart over and over again. The only good thing about this is that the teacher has been arrested, and has confessed to the crime (now that the child is four months pregnant). A powerful essay talks about how nobody in the government has taken notice of this case. Worse, the community blames the victim’s family for not protecting her “honour”. Supposedly they should have protected her “honour” by either never letting her go to school in the first place, or by killing her as soon as they ...

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My argument in favour of a federation and why religion could not unite Pakistan

Pakistan displays strange contrasting patterns with respect to religion’s influence. Apparently, Pakistan looks to be a relatively moderate country, particularly when compared to the likes of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etcetera. Here the hardliners have never been voted in power through the ballot box. It has an independent media and relatively loose censorship standards. Radical Islam as a mode of life is still largely absent from the overall lifestyle of the Pakistanis as the country by no stretch of imagination is following the trajectory of Iran. It does not have a charismatic cultish religious leader like Khomeini and the public mood despite being conservative ...

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Should Imran Khan be arrested for treating a Taliban leader?

I will begin by admitting that I support PPP, the party Pakistan’s urban middleclass loves to hate. The basis for my support is just one – in Pakistan’s context, PPP remains the only mainstream party with a liberal and progressive ethos. No matter how you put it, this is a party which, in contemporary times, has tried to act as a bulwark against rising extremism and has paid the price in blood for doing so. In 2007, it lost Benazir Bhutto and then Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti in 2011. It also played a major role in the modification of the infamous Hudood ...

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