Stories about religious clerics

According to this “scholar”, ‘sins such as murder and rape will be ignored as long as you pray’

The dilemma of the contemporary age is the excess of unsorted information masquerading as knowledge and the most abundantly distorted type of ‘knowledge’ these days is ‘religious’ in nature. A certain breed of such so-called scholars exists among us, disseminating a message that is far from truth. Their half-baked ideas about religious norms, practices and forms of punishment aren’t based on logic or humanity. Such religious quacks probably existed before our time too but the ubiquity of social media brings them to our phone screens whether we want them to or not. Recently, I came across one such ‘religious cleric’ ...

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Waking up in Naya Pakistan: 8 commendable things to come out of the 2018 Elections

I live in the US but I am visiting Pakistan for the 2018 General Elections, and am proud to have witnessed an amazing electoral process, voted myself, and seen the making of a ‘Naya Pakistan’. I was in the US in 2016 when the presidential elections were going on, however, the burst of activism and political awareness among the youth, alongside the will to work for the betterment of the country, is rather distinct here in the homeland. Politics is discussed over cups of ‘karak chai’ at local dhabas and elite coffee shops alike. Another difference I observed from ...

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Zainab was clearly not the last one as cases keep popping up, yet sex education remains taboo in Pakistan

Recently, a school guard of a private school in Karachi was detained by the police for allegedly molesting a minor girl. A five-year-old girl barely escaped a rape attempt in Bahawalpur. The body of a four-year-old girl was discovered in the sugar cane fields of Mardan; she had been raped and strangled to death. Policemen in Kasur search in vain to nab the serial killer wanted in the rape case of Zainab, a case that has taken the country by storm. The news of these horrific incidents keep popping up with no end in sight. My head spins when I get my daily updates, ...

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#MeToo: I am older, wiser and more determined than the little girl who was forced to hold an imam’s genitals – but not safer

The first time it happened, I was seven. An imam in our neighbourhood mosque held me, taking my hand, wrapping my fingers (they were still tiny) around his genitals, then massaging it. I was so small I did not know what it was that was in my hand. I had never seen it before and I certainly did not know what it felt like.  “Do you like it?” he asked again and again, until someone came to the room, and he quickly let go of me. Later, I told my mom about this peculiar incident, and she wept for weeks and months over ...

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Sahir Lodhi needs to sit for his Pakistan Studies exam again, for Saba’s words were not hers at all

“Quaid-e-Azam aao zara tum, Dekho apna pakistan, Jiski bunyado ki khatir, Lakho ne di apni jaan.” (Quaid-e-Azam come, Look at your Pakistan, For whose foundation sake, Millions of lives were sacrificed.) So starts the poem penned by Urdu poetess Gulnar Afreen – the refrain of which has become ubiquitous thanks to its completion being denied to a young speaker very recently in a Ramazan transmission. Now while it makes perfect sense for the literarily crippled philistines of the country to know zilch about where the verse comes from, the fact that the farce was broadcasted on live television, specifically in the holy month of Ramazan, serves as something of an expergefactor. And while the masses in general and ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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Can someone in Pakistan please address the ever-growing elephant in the room?

The way a doctor needs to address a patient’s critical problems first, before evaluating the less threatening ones, a country too needs its public policy practitioners to tackle its grave issues before moving to its trivial ones. We can build all the roads, metro buses, and Orange lines as envisioned by the government ruling the centre, or we can start focusing on health and education as proposed by the opposition instead. However, there is absolutely no way to meet the needs of Pakistan’s people if the population continues to grow as it has been for the past seven decades. According to the 1951 census, West Pakistan had a ...

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We’re celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day, but are we really independent?

On August 11, 1947, a newly-formed Pakistan held its first parliamentary session. The purpose was to draft a constitution. During this session, Pakistan’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah famously reaffirmed the pluralistic values the new nation had been founding declaring: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” This year will mark the nation’s 69th year ...

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The Council of Islamic Ideology was never meant to be a permanent body, so why does it still exist?

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is a constitutional body established under Article 228 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. Given its increasingly obnoxious prescriptions, many in Pakistan are beginning to wonder if it is a good idea to have it in the first place. To this end the Senate Committee on Human Rights has recommended its disbanding recently. There is merit in this recommendation because the CII was never supposed to be a permanent body. It was supposed to give its final report within seven years of its appointment. That final report was presented in December 1996 and ...

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Will the Muslim women in India find protection in the courts?

One may accuse Trupti Desai’s symbolic entry to the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, and her earlier attempt to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple, as a well thought out publicity stunt highlighting her political intentions. However, one has to grant her and her organisation, Bhumata Ranrangini Brigade, due credit for their gumption to take on religious clerics and other religious organisations. Her determination resulted in the decadent old custom that prevented women from entering places of worship, into the public domain. It is indeed a sad commentary that even after 69 years of India’s independence; Indian women have to fight for their rights. Women have to constantly fight ...

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