Stories about liberals

Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and Sheikh Rasheed: Recipe for disaster?

In January 2013, Dr Tahirul Qadri, author of a renowned fatwa against terrorism, held Pakistan’s capital hostage for several days while making a categorical litany of demands that had to be met within 15 minutes by the government “or else”. It was a four-day-long drama but the crowd of 25,000-60,000 remained remarkably peaceful. A similar carnival is coming to town again. This time not only does it feature Dr Qadri and his followers, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shiekh Rasheed and the Jamaat-e-Islaami’s (JI) alliance as well. It’s a peculiar bunch but that is often what makes the carnival more appealing – one ...

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Egyptian verdict: They gave her 11 years in prison, she gave them a beautiful, victorious smile

As I scroll down my Twitter feed, a smile captivates me. The face had thousands of words, endless thoughts and most importantly tranquillity of soul. She isn’t a celebrity or a popular activist rather a girl next door, who wouldn’t be noticed in normal surroundings. Caged in an Egyptian courtroom with 20 others like her, she received an 11 years sentence for her crimes. The gravity of their offense lay in treading the forbidden path – ‘challenging dictatorship’ – a much greater sin than eating the apple. These young women, all in their teens and tweens, rounded up late last month were ...

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Salmaan Taseer’s fight against blasphemy laws is slowly fading

Intellectual hegemony is a concept introduced by Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci. In simple words, it means an ideology that is so prevalent and widespread in society that it is considered the ultimate truth or “common sense” and any other ideology that is different from that particular dominant ideology is considered heretical. In this way, status quo is maintained. Let me explain this in Pakistan’s context. A few years ago, speaking out about the blasphemy law – originally instituted by the British and made stricter by Zia and Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) – was not considered life threatening. After the assassination ...

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I’m a liberal, deal with it!

Our political arena is strictly a battleground between the hard conservatives and the centrists. On the other end of the field, amidst rolling tumbleweeds and sprawling spider webs, stand a grand total of four liberals, one of whom almost got shot a few days ago. Déjà vu, anyone? When we suggest that the “liberal extremists are as bad as the right-wing fundamentalists”, we assert a symmetrical distribution of lunatics and miscreants. This proposition is entirely ludicrous. I cannot recall the last time an outspoken liberal like Hoodbhoy garlanded a killer, or if Asma Jahangir placed a bounty on someone’s head. I wonder how many ...

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Malala shooting: The Pakistani media’s hidden agenda

The attack on Malala Yousufzai and the reactions evoked by it have been covered in the media in detail. Sadly, the after-effects are not what many proponents of such coverage would have hoped for. Our coverage, for the most part, has been one-dimensional. We have been focusing on whether Malala will get better and how horrible the entire incident has been. But we have failed to analyse other aspects. What are the ramifications of such an attack? Where do we see us going from here? Perhaps, we don’t want to deal with the conclusions that many of our analysts will draw. Perhaps, it’s ...

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Does saying ‘Ramadan’ over ‘Ramazan’ make you a better Muslim?

Since the last few years, the arrival of the holy month brings with it the ignition of a debate on social media in Pakistan. At the centre of this is the dispute over how to pronounce the name of this month; should we use the Urdu word ‘Ramzan’ or the Arabic word ‘Ramadan’? Here are a few tweets regarding this matter: Beena Sarwar: @beenasarwar You can call the holy month what you want. I’ll use Ramzan, rather than the corporatised, commercialised, Arabised, westernised Ramadan. Fazeelat Aslam: @FazeelatAslam If you’re Pakistani say Ramzan. If you enjoy continuing Zia’s mission and being a lemming, please say Ramadan. #lemmings AM: @delhisultan Today we ...

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The fundofication of PTI

Three and a half months into the tsunami, things do not seem to be going in the direction many had hoped. What started out as a campaign to bring about positive and lasting change by bringing the youth and Pakistan’s moderate majority on board has now turned in to a lota/fundo-fest. But the believers still cling onto the words that were said on October 30, during that historic jalsa in Lahore. The idea was that Pakistan was for everyone – liberals, conservatives and moderates coming together under the banner of one party that promised to build an Islamic welfare state and ...

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I love ET blogs. Here’s why…

It is sometimes argued that blogs are inconsequential, petty accounts of peoples’ personal dilemmas which are misrepresented as national issues. In a recent piece “10 things I hate about ET blogs” the writer says that blogs demand neither skill nor experience, and offer little more than tunnel-visioned narratives. Is it ironic that I’ve decided to write a blog-like account of this matter? Society under a microscope The story of one individual, say a pesky feminist, or a bitter member of a minority group, is seemingly petty and inconsequential. In a larger scheme, these stories are anything but. A society is a ...

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