Stories about religious minorities

Will running for local government elections help the Christian community in K-P?

Amid all the hoopla of the Chinese premier’s visit to Pakistan, individuals belonging to the Christian community have filed nominations papers for the first time in Dir District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for the upcoming local government elections. Both news items are not linked, but both are significant. While commentary on minority rights in Pakistan has a large presence on social media, it is slowly creeping into everyday dialogue too. And even though the focus on this issue is not as profound as it should be, every step forward is a step in the right direction. It is, however, unfortunate that what pushed the Christian community ...

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Can uniform prayer timings in Islamabad bring religious harmony?

The recent news development of Muslim clerics and the Ministry of Religious Affairs agreeing to have uniform prayer timings in Islamabad has been hailed as a positive step forward. While there can be little argument that a step which aims to promote religious harmony is good, it is important that the matter is studied in more detail. Setting conspiracy theories aside, it is common knowledge that the government has taken the recent step to develop some sort of understanding among different Muslim sects, as miniscule as it may seem, and in the process give birth to the idea of coexistence. Disappointingly, however, the ...

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Perhaps Jordan can teach Pakistan how to treat its minorities

The deadly attack on Pakistan’s Christian minority in Youhanabad left 16 people dead and was followed by communal clashes in Lahore. Soon after the incident, the Bohra community was targeted in Karachi last Friday. These attacks are not new to religious minorities in Pakistan, who have been living under fear of their lives for the past few years; their residential colonies, work places and places of worship are turning into slaughter houses in their own homeland. However, in case of other Muslim-majority countries, minority groups continue to live in peace and enjoy the rights and privileges prescribed to them by law. ...

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Christening our Muslim land with blood

Five years ago, I lost close friends in one of the most gruesome terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil. In twin attacks on two major Ahmadi places of worship in Lahore, 88 worshippers were martyred by the Taliban. It was a painfully bloody day. This weekend, I woke up to sad news from Pakistan that made me relive some of that pain. Fourteen worshipers were martyred and more than 70 were injured when two Taliban suicide bombers blew themselves up outside churches in Youhanabad, Lahore. These attacks on Pakistan’s Christian community are not a sporadic event. They are a part of a very tragic trend. Just over a year ago, another ...

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The day I lost my father in a terrorist attack

February 13, 2015 was like any other ordinary Friday. My father had left for Friday prayers at the Imamia Masjid, my mother was busy in the kitchen, while I was sitting in my room with my younger sister. My elder sister came in and asked me to make an appointment for our mother with the ophthalmologist. So I took my phone, left the room and dialled the ophthalmologist’s number, but it was engaged. I tried calling on the number a few more times before giving up. Returning to my room, I found it to be empty and for some unexplainable, ...

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Where has our religious freedom gone, Pakistan?

The intrusion of reactionary Islam into the Pakistani way of life is not a recent trend, at least for large sections of the country’s current youth. While not officially a theocracy like Iran, Pakistan is still an Islamic Republic and despite having a Federal Sharia Court, legal rulings are the responsibility of scholars who do not necessarily need to be clerics. In an environment such as that of modern day Pakistan, suffocating religious sentiments are quite common. When these religious sentiments are given the support of a legal framework, things take an even more suffocating turn. This is what has happened ...

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Aansoo Kohli: A candle in the wilderness, a teardrop of inspiration

Exiting the Super Highway just outside Hyderabad city and taking the bypass to Mirpurkhas, dense mango orchards with rows upon rows of mature mango trees greet you. You drive past the Sindh Agricultural University Tando Jam, pleasantly surprised by its well-maintained, imposing buildings and its immaculate grounds. The dual-carriage highway from Hyderabad to Mirpur Khas has to be one of the best, smoothest roads anywhere in the country. Just before Mirpur Khas, we turn off the highway onto a single track, bumpy, side road to the town of Kunri. Fields of sugarcane, banana, mustard, onions and other veggies on either ...

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Can Pakistanis rise to the occasion?

It’s been a while since I last visited Pakistan; long enough that the kids I knew have now grown up to become functional, responsible adults. The friends I made are descending into the middle-age bracket. Many of the relations I had have either passed or are in the late stages of their lives. In a nutshell, a tremendous amount of transition and transformation has taken place as far as my personal life, as well as those I left behind, is concerned. I keep a close eye on a regular basis, thanks to the great tools of technology, on how the Pakistani ...

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Why can’t we clean our streets and houses ourselves?

It was December 25, 2014 and I was heading out for work. As I approached the main gate, my eye caught sight of our building’s notice board. The words scribbled on the board left me dumbfounded. It read: “Important Notice: On December 25 and December 26, on account of the Christian community’s religious festival, Christmas, the sweepers will be off. Hence, on these two days, residents are requested to make sure garbage is not dumped on their balconies and special care is taken of their surroundings, with regards to cleanliness. Thank you.” Photo: Ishrat Ansari Though born and bred ...

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Witnessing the rise of Modi’s Hindu state

You cannot live in an illusion forever. Reality does strike, sooner or later. And that is what is happening with Narendra Modi’s government in Delhi. The illusion that Modi would usher in a new era of modern and progressive governance is fast disappearing and giving way to a new realism. He led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic win this year with the promise of bringing a new era of economic and political reforms. Six months into power, India is still waiting to see the promised economic reforms. It is, however, witnessing an unravelling of regressive politics which the country has ...

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