Stories about sectarian viol;ence

Why is Section 144 only shunning PTI’s voice?

On Thursday evening, during a peaceful protest held in Islamabad, the police stormed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) youth convention in Islamabad and arrested party workers. This has raised some serious legal questions, specifically in regard to the administrative powers of the state. Section 144 of The Criminal Procedure Code is: “Power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger.” This was first introduced in 1861; the sole purpose was to curb any native, Indian nationalist uprising against the British Sovereign. During the time of the British Raj, we see that this law wasn’t used to uphold the individual rights rather as a tool by ...

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Is Imran Khan endorsing and financing an institution that officially supports the Afghan Taliban?

For those as yet unaware of the legend, Darul Uloom Haqqania is a large religious seminary located in Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It was founded in 1947 by Maulana Abdul Haq, a prominent scholar of Hadith who had trained at the Darul Uloom Deoband, the centre of Deobandi Islam in undivided India. It remained, till the start of the Afghan-Soviet war, a somewhat respectable institution that stayed away from politics and controversy. The students and administration of the seminary even played an important role in ensuring security and safety for the engineers and labour crews of the massive Karakoram Highway project. ...

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Nawaz Sharif underwent serious surgery: Should a deputy PM have been appointed?

Amidst heated demands of resignation following his family’s deep involvement in offshore tax activity coming to light with the Panama Paper reveals Prime Minister Sharif hastily left for London last week. Jumping where they saw opportunity, his political detractors, in a game of ‘I told you so’ accused the country’s leader for having fled for good until news surfaced, from within the PM’s family camp, that he had in fact gone for a necessary, emergency open heart surgery – a risky yet routine procedure and the PM’s second such surgery in recent years. At 66 years of age, the prime minister of Pakistan ...

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My argument in favour of a federation and why religion could not unite Pakistan

Pakistan displays strange contrasting patterns with respect to religion’s influence. Apparently, Pakistan looks to be a relatively moderate country, particularly when compared to the likes of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etcetera. Here the hardliners have never been voted in power through the ballot box. It has an independent media and relatively loose censorship standards. Radical Islam as a mode of life is still largely absent from the overall lifestyle of the Pakistanis as the country by no stretch of imagination is following the trajectory of Iran. It does not have a charismatic cultish religious leader like Khomeini and the public mood despite being conservative ...

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Will Gilgit-Baltistan witness a peaceful Muharram this year?

As the Himalayan peaks witnessed their first snowfall, I was automatically reminded of my days in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). I turned towards the window overlooking the silhouette of mountains, and I wondered whether Gilgit will witness a peaceful Muharram this year. Gilgit, being the capital of the province, is home to a fair representation of all sects; Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis and Noor Bakhsis. During Muharram, streets are thronged with men, women and children making their way to various majalis and processions.  “We climb the mountains around Gilgit valley to illuminate the name of Imam Hussain (RA), drawn out with candles,” says a young ...

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Has Quetta’s charm been lost forever?

While travelling on the Regional Cooperation for Development Highway (RCD) and the National Highway under the moonlight, which shone so bright that one could clearly see the crossing, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It made me reminisce about how Quetta used to be a peaceful, calm, and content valley – once upon a time. Photo: Ijaz Younus Baloch Over the past few years, Quetta has lost its charm of tranquillity and serenity. Gone are the days when roaming on Prince Road to find the right eatery for dinner and queuing in front of Flora for ...

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Where does anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic hate speech overlap?

The first session of the sixth annual Muslim-Jewish Conference (MJC) began with the following announcement: “Everyone separate into two categories of groups. Muslims sit with Muslims and Jews sit with Jews. Let’s write down stereotypes that you think people hold about your religious identity.” It didn’t take long for the stereotypes to roll in. The Muslims jotted them down rather quickly. We’ve all heard them countless times and they’ve been stitched into our consciousness. Words such as terrorist, judgmental, and oppressed were penned down. The Jews were quick to word out the stereotypes as well – wealthy, conniving, and greedy. A Jewish New Yorker ...

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Will the Budget 2015-16 be merciful to the common man?

Zeenat Bibi lives in a small city in interior Sindh; she works as a housemaid to make ends meet. Every year she works harder and secretly hopes that her life will get better this time around. She hopes she can earn enough money to purchase sufficient food for her children, send them to school, and buy new clothes for them on Eid. But she is disappointed each time, because the harder she works, the higher the inflation rates soar, making life even more difficult for her than what it was in the past year. The life of a common man in ...

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Four ways to condemn violence against minorities in Pakistan that are all wrong!

Minority communities in Pakistan are thankful for their moderate friends from mainstream Sunni school of thought, for supporting them in these harrowing times. Countless have condemned the attacks against minorities, and many have risked their own lives to stand up for others. However, in a few circles, some arguments in opposition to violence against minorities, while appearing to be a condemnation of violence, often end up being detrimental to these side-lined communities. Here are a few of those arguments, often heard from mainstream moderates (and if you hear yourself making one of these – please stop): 1) “We shouldn’t kill Shias because Shias and ...

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To save Pakistan, we have to let go of the idea of Pakistan

“We are fighting a fight for Pakistan.” This is an oft repeated statement from politicians, military personnel, bureaucrats and journalists. Let me tell you unequivocally, we are losing the fight for Pakistan. In our attempts to salvage an archaic idea of Pakistan, an idea relegated to the back shelves of the global landscape, we are losing the Pakistan that we have. We will not win this war in North Waziristan, we will not lose this war in Lahore, we will either win or lose this war in the minds of our countrymen. Yes, that is what they are, our countrymen, and every single ...

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