Stories about minority rights

Salmaan Taseer’s sacrifice was in vain

One year on from the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, and all debate on amending the blasphemy laws has essentially come to a close. I do not blame individual citizens for this. Given the prevailing extremist temperament in the country, it is next to impossible to effectively stand up to what is, at the end of the day, a case of bullying in the name of religion. Given the kind of organisation and capabilities the extremists/militants have, it is very difficult for the average man or woman, appalled at the rapid rise of violent radicalism in the country, to speak out. It is not just ...

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Do we remember what Taseer was fighting for?

International newspapers were ruthlessly generous to Pakistan this past year in granting the country front page features time and time again. Coverage included the Raymond Davis incident, the Memogate scandal, a ‘bold’ Veena Malik, devastating floods, and everyone’s favourite, Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. However, exactly one year ago, Pakistan stole headlines for a reason that has largely been buried; Salmaan Taseer’s assassination over the criticism of the blasphemy law. On January 4, 2011, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, one of Taseer’s security guards, emptied over 20 bullets into the body of the man he was meant to protect. Taseer’s death was both ...

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Christmas in Maryland

Ijazz Yousaf was born in a church in Anarkali, Lahore, the year of Pakistan’s birth. A resident of Maryland since the mid-80s, he has worked in a government job with mentally challenged citizens. Living in a suburb in Maryland with his wife and children, Yousaf  invited me to interview him and his family about their life in Pakistan and Christmas preparations. As we stand in his front yard, surveying the twinkling lights of the Christmas decorations in the garden, he says: “ It was a different time, no one cared what your religion was.” In a year when the blasphemy law has ...

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