Stories about minorities

Ahmadi in America: Why Shahbaz Bhatti’s death gives me hope

My life in America has been a breeze compared to the life I would have had in a Pakistani village had we stayed there after I was born. But try telling that to a misfit outsider transplanted to Texas. I happen to be an Ahmadi by birth and by practice. It is common knowledge that in Pakistan, where I still have family, anti-Ahmadi conferences take place regularly. During these conferences, audiences are taught that they have a religious duty to kill Ahmadis. As a result, some uneducated Muslims who are unable to read the Holy Quran for themselves, are misled to believe ...

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We do not deserve Shahbaz Bhatti

Minister for minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has been brutally gunned down today –  joining the list of many to have been killed.Voices of sanity do not do well here in Pakistan. Just when you start thinking things will be okay, that now the maniacs have safely put away Aasia Bibi and they’ve killed Salmaan Taseer so maybe that’s enough to make their point – you are jolted into the reality that is Pakistan. You understand completely and fully, even if you did not that morning when reading the opinions page of The Express Tribune, why George Fulton is leaving. Today’s breaking news ...

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Legitimising extremism: The state’s deafening silence

Despite fighting a long war against militancy the state seems to have displayed recent apathy towards the spread of extremism over the past year. Its inability and unwillingness to challenge jihadi groups has legitimised the cleric and his judgments. Sadly for minorities, this has turned into an increased threat as many feel that their connection to the country is rapidly deteriorating. Last month, the Federal Shariat Court issued a ruling that declared several sections of the Women’s Protection Act 2006 against Sharia law. The ruling effectively stated that “no legislative instrument can control, regulate or amend FSC’s relating to the Hudood ...

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Biased media: We are all to blame

People tend to believe everything they see on TV. In Pakistan, this means that they only believe one side of the story. News channels in Pakistan often resort to selective censorship, preventing opposing views to be heard. Right vs left Over the past month a majority of the media has behaved recklessly and has given up on presenting both sides of the story. By and large most news groups in Pakistan push a right-wing agenda while a small sub-section promotes the liberal agenda.  Just as right-wing channels refuse to present the other side of the story, liberal media will not showcase the right ...

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Fighting for the white stripe

On August 11, 1947, the country’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan unveiled the new Pakistani flag – an all-green Muslim League flag with a slight alteration. It included a white stripe that the then prime minister in his address went on to say provided minorities with rights that the Congress party in India was unwilling to give. Standing on the empty front lawn of the Governor House for the first time since the governor’s assassination, I was reminded of Governor Salmaan Taseer’s Christmas day address only a month earlier. The governor, who was dressed in his typical dark sports coat ...

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After Taseer: Time to change direction

For many, the start of a new year marked the beginning of fresh hope that things would finally change in Pakistan. After all, December had seen a dramatic decrease in the number of suicide bombings in the country and the politicians had finally started arguing over public policy as opposed to security. This new found optimism, however, came to an abrupt halt when Malik Mumtaz Qadri emptied the magazine of his brutally murdering Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, and leaving the ideology of Pakistan hanging by a thread. What has followed since is a nation split in opinion over whether the action ...

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Hijab, Santa and the Christmas spirit

Earlier this month my class mates and I were given an assignment on interfaith awareness between Muslims and Christians. Over the past decade the two communities have not had very warm relations especially since after 9/11. My friends and I felt nervous about this task as we had never interacted with a member of the Christian faith before. We were oblivious to what their traditions were and how they would react to us. I was particularly panicky because I wear a veil and hijaab. Will they even talk to me, I wondered. Our project required that we take photographs of ...

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The conservatives and politics of fear

On Saturday, December 18, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, that was to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States (US) as children, failed to push through the Senate. Although at the outset, the DREAM Act had strong bipartisan support, as the mood of the country towards immigration shifted, Republican (and some Democrat) senators backtracked, terming the legislation as a backdoor amnesty for lawbreakers. These so-called lawbreakers are in fact, individuals who, through no volition of their own, entered and grew up in the US. America is the only ...

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Think-tanks, conferences and more hot air

As a reporter for Dawn in the mid-to-late 1990s, one of the first beats assigned to me was to cover seminars on various issues in the city of Karachi. At first this seemed like an interesting proposition but over time it became a drag – not least because on ended up seeing the same people all the time, discussing the same things over and over again, and giving the same solutions over and over again. Surely, they didn’t need to hold yet another conference on this issue, one would say to oneself, given that the issue had already been done to ...

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Minorities in Pakistan: Living a marginalised reality

I’ve found the reaction to Pakistan’s current blasphemy laws surprising. Not because I think the whole Aasia Bibi (and more recently Naushad Valiyani) issue has been blown out of proportion but because of how long it has taken Pakistan to acknowledge the malicious nature of the blasphemy laws. I feel that our nation’s reaction is luke warm – one that has flourished just so most of us can sleep at night feeling good about ourselves as genuine ‘online philanthropists’. These blasphemy laws have existed in Pakistan as long as I can remember. They are a product of what General Ziaul Haq and ...

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