Stories about secular

Can India really lecture Pakistan on secularism?

In what is almost certainly a first, the Indian army chief has found it prudent to lecture another country on how its state ought to function. While this may be a first, it sadly doesn’t come as a surprise. Institutions in India in the time of Narendra Modi are in disarray. Those that should assert themselves are being asserted upon – like the Election Commission of India, the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation and so on – while those institutions that should properly mind their own business feel like they now have the space to ...

Read Full Post

Why re-electing Erdogan will be fruitful for Turkey

For the first time in history, Turkey has transitioned to a presidential system of governance. Following last year’s narrowly-won referendum with 51% votes in favour, the prime minister’s office was abolished, the powers of the Parliament curtailed, while presidential powers were bolstered. Following the June 24th election results, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now back in the saddle with much more power in hand than ever before. He will now rule Turkey once again for the next crucial five years, which will define the fate of the country after a failed coup against his regime a couple of years back. What ...

Read Full Post

India’s ongoing Padmavati controversy is engrained with ulterior motives

A 21st century movie based on the mythology of the 16thcentury about a 14th century queen has ruffled political feathers in India. The members of Karni Sena, a politico-cultural group of Rajputs, man-handled Padmavati’s director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, vandalised cinema halls, and openly threatened high intensity violence if the movie is released. The protesters allege that the movie distorts the Rajput history, glorifies a barbaric invader as a lover and a brave warrior. Rumours are galore that the movie shows a love affair between the Queen Padmavati and the invader Alauddin Khilji. However, the truth is far more complex than what appears on the surface. Eminent journalists like Dr Ved Pratap Vedic and Rajat ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan should become a secular state, but how realistic is that?

In one of my articles last year, I tried to make a normative case for secularism in Muslim countries. I argued that given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and growing sectarianism, there is a case of secularism in Muslim countries. Since a secular state is religiously neutral, therefore it would allow various sects in Islam, as well as non-Muslim minorities, to practice their faith freely. Moreover, it would delink the religion with legal code and therefore laws would start reflecting contemporary realities. In my opinion, the idea should at least be entertained in our discourse as it merits serious deliberation. My own country, Pakistan, perhaps is ...

Read Full Post

India prides itself as a tolerant and multi-ethnic state, but is it really?

Recently, India has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Over the past three years, after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in a landslide, India has witnessed increased religious intolerance.  Beef has constantly been politicised and electoral rhetoric has constantly used the communal card to pull voters. During the Uttar Pardesh (UP) elections, communal rhetoric was couched in an extremely hateful language, and in the end, BJP chose a fire brand anti-Muslim to lead as the chief minister, despite the fact that it had other alternatives. After his elections, and despite his attempt to tame down hardliners, the law and order situation in ...

Read Full Post

Will the real liberal please stand up?

The recently held Karachi Literature Festival 2017 was a hub alright. But a hub of what? What it stands for, ideally, is not just celebrating books and authors, but also to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s beautiful minds that allow critical thinking and are truly progressive. Literature and the arts, on such forums, are designed to allow an open inflow and outflow of thoughts and ideas, and an exchange of not just narrative but also counter narrative. One counterfoil session of the KLF 2017 was introduced as a discussion on conflict-resolution through art and enterprise. One of Pakistan’s well ...

Read Full Post

An open letter to Benazir Bhutto

Bibi, It has been almost a decade since you met your untimely demise on December 27, 2007. It has been almost a decade since the day the country lost one of its greatest leaders. The state that Pakistan finds itself in today may not surprise you. Unlike the others, you had the foresight to see the storm we were heading towards when you spoke of secular values. The state your party finds itself in today, however, will crush you. Your party has always represented the best of Pakistan. From your iconic father, to people of unparalleled substance, brilliance and integrity like Meraj Muhammad Khan, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman and Malik ...

Read Full Post

I’d wear the burkini over a bikini any day

The women’s rights minister in France, Laurence Rossignol, thinks that burkinis are “profoundly archaic”. Who wouldn’t agree with me, if I said that she is no different than any rigidly religious person who criticises a woman for what she wears. It is a woman’s own choice and no one gets to make that decision for us. I am a Muslim but perhaps not the ‘best’ practising Muslim. Religion usually doesn’t play a very big role in my decisions (fellow Muslims please don’t jump to conclusion for my statement, but I would rather be honest than be a hypocrite!). So anything that I ...

Read Full Post

In defence of Ziaul Haq

Pakistan’s liberal classes revile no other figure as much as Ziaul Haq. To them, he is the embodiment of whatever ails Pakistani society today. They put the onus of Pakistani Taliban on that sole grave under the shade of Faisal Mosque. They are quite virulent in their protests that Pakistani society became intolerant and vastly more Islamist solely due to him. Perhaps they forget that the marde-momin mard-e-haq did not declare Ahmadis non-Muslims: Bhutto did. Sadly, the man cannot even take credit for banning alcohol and gambling: Bhutto did. The Objectives Resolution of 1949, calling for the creation of an Islamic rather than a secular Republic, was passed when Zia was a mere Major in the army, with no ...

Read Full Post

Is Hamza Ali Abbasi the only one brave enough to broach the ‘Ahmadi question’ on TV?

Pakistan has a complicated relationship with one of its most bankable stars, Hamza Ali Abbasi. For we might love putting him in the line of fire for his over-emphatic, often ill-informed, posts on Facebook; the TV serials he stars in climb up the TRP charts like a pro. Courting controversy is then Hamza’s forte, after all, they say no publicity is bad publicity and Hamza’s getting his share aplenty. Often pointed out for his extreme ideas, borderline hypocrisy and “liberal bashing” on his very active Facebook page, Hamza has circled himself with a group of like-minded people online; most dwelling upon ...

Read Full Post