Stories about Shia

In conversation with Pervez Hoodbhoy – Part 3: South Asian politics and culture

This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ South Asian Politics and Culture Hassan Mirza (HM): Was India ever a proper democracy? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): India was a secular democracy in its first few decades but, like Pakistan, is now becoming a majoritarian democracy. That’s very dangerous for minorities. There’s a real danger of the two countries becoming mirror copies. For example, last year I arranged a talk by the anti-Modi Indian liberal politician, Mani Shankar Aiyar, at Forman Christian ...

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Can Pakistan hold India responsible for religious discrimination?

A couple of days ago, the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha (upper house and the Rajya Sabha (lower house) of the Indian Parliament. Due to the discriminatory and exclusionary nature of the act, the Indian government is getting a lot of heat from the international media. Internally also, India has received and continues to receive flak from the liberal sections of the Indian press, Muslims and from populations of the northeastern states of India, who fear that the aforementioned bill will endanger their indigenous culture and languages. Several international humanitarian organisations, such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Amnesty ...

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Does Pakistan have the moral ground to criticise religious persecution in India?

Now that the adrenaline from listening to Imran Khan’s powerful speech at the United Nations (UN) has subsided, it is a good time for some introspection. India’s descent into fascism has caused justified outrage amongst the people of Pakistan. Its treatment of a minority Muslim population has filled our hearts with pain. But has it also awakened us to the hypocrisy of our nation? We ask the world to step in to save Muslims in India, but we also want ambivalence from the world towards how minorities are treated in Pakistan. Last year, when America added Pakistan to a list of ...

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Property for sale, unless you are a non-Muslim

It is no secret that Pakistan has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting religious minorities and ensuring that their rights are safeguarded. But legislation and government action can only do so much; ultimately, it is the attitude of the masses which will determine whether we as a nation wish to protect religious plurality or not. Thus far, that seems rather unlikely. A torrential downpour of blasphemy cases, forced conversions and the fleeing of religious minority groups from Pakisatn has only led to the increasing marginalisation of those who belong to a religious minority in the country. There is however a ...

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(Not) ‘All Pakistanis suffer equally’

In the wake of the recent heart-rending tragedy that befell the Hazaras of Hazarganji, a number of prominent media personalities such as Asad Rahim Khan, Pervez Hoodbhoy, and the relentless political activist Jibran Nasir, came out in vocal support of the highly persecuted minority ethnic group. They openly spoke about the real motivation behind why the community continues to be preferentially targeted by a now annual onslaught of militant attacks, and why its predicament is still met with a rabid form of popular indifference that is nauseating to even consider, let alone make sense of. Tomorrow morning a few friends and I will be ...

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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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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Pakistan’s brain drain: 11 exceptional Pakistanis unrecognised by their own country, until they leave

Pakistan is a land of diverse culture and boundless talent. However, what we lack here in abundance is acceptance, while denouncement and hatred are quite easy to come by. We push away anything or anyone who is even slightly diverse when compared to the hordes of our mediocre mainstream, choosing monotony over innovation. As a consequence, those who are truly gifted are forced to leave the country and follow their dreams elsewhere. And why shouldn’t they? Those with bigger dreams need bigger horizons, and instead of broadening ours, we cast them out. Then we have the audacity to comment on how ...

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The Pakistan Army and Iran: A new dawn or a message for the Saudis?

The Pakistan Army has been drawing closer to Iran under its new chief, General Qamar Bajwa. Is Pakistan moving out from under Saudi Arabia’s orbit? Something quite remarkable happened with regards to Pakistan’s defence diplomacy recently – Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made an official trip to Iran. It was the first visit by a Pakistani army chief in almost three decades. General Pervez Musharraf visited; not in his capacity as head of the armed forces, but rather as a president attending a regional summit. Similarly, General Raheel Sharif visited in January 2016, but it was just for a couple of ...

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The Pakistani male conundrum: If you date a girl, don’t marry her

“Yaar ab aisi larki se shaadi thori karsaktay hain!” (One cannot possibly marry such a girl!) “Yaar wo Sunni hai or mein Shia; meray ghar walay kabhi nahi manein gay.” (She is a Sunni and I am a Shia; my family will never agree.) “Aisi larkian toh sirf time pass hoti hain; shaadi thori kartay hain in say.” (Such girls are there for fun, to pass the time only; you are not supposed to marry them.) “Ammi abbu nahi manein gay. Wo hamari zaat ki nahi hai.” (My mom and dad won’t agree. She doesn’t belong to our caste.) These comments, unsurprisingly, came from some of my very ...

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