Sunday, November 10, 2013

Umar Cheema, a hope for Pakistan

Congratulations to Umar Cheema
ICFJ - International Center for Journalists  - Advancing Quality Journalism Worldwide

  • Umar Cheema
Umar Cheema has set a new standard for courage and quality journalism in Pakistan, a country where reporters are routinely attacked and murdered.

As a reporter for Pakistan’s largest English-language daily, The News, he has been a resolute force in investigative journalism for more than a decade.

In 2010, he was kidnapped and brutally tortured for writing critical stories about the government. Since then, undaunted, he has churned out a steady stream of hard-hitting reports. He documented how car smugglers rake in huge profits without paying taxes. He mined data to expose how top lawmakers spend little time in Parliament working on legislation.

Two years ago, Cheema founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan. In its initial report, he analyzed the tax records of 446 lawmakers and ministers. He discovered that nearly 70 percent of legislators did not file income taxes in 2011, including President Asif Ali Zardari. After his story ran, the government instituted rules forcing candidates in contested elections to submit tax returns and charged tax shirkers a penalty for past evasions.

Cheema has received numerous awards for his courage and reporting, including the 2011 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also attended the London School of Economics where he received a Master of Sciences Degree in Comparative Politics (Conflict Studies).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Message for PSNT and PAAT

A MESSAGE FOR PAAT AND PSNT
We have to learn to respect different perspectives.
http://redeemingpakistan.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-message-for-psnt-and-paat.html


Pakistani American Association of Texas has cancelled the Independence Day celebrations, as an acknowledgement of the difficult situation back home, and we need to honor their sentiments.

Pakistan Society of North Texas continues with the celebration. That is another view; the life must continue and appreciate the freedom.
I urge Dallas Pakistanis to put politics aside, and not treat PAAT or PSNT over the other, each one has a role to play and each organization’s take on celebration should be respected.


If we can learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the God given uniqueness of each one, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

A day will come when every Pakistani will live without apprehension or fear of the other within their boundaries and with other nations. That is indeed true independence and freedom. 
It will come, if each one drops the bias towards the other. It begins with each one of you - if you hold grudges against the other, I guarantee the reciprocity. 

Please observe a minute’s silence for every atrocity that is happening in Pakistan – including the attack on Ismaili Jamaat Khana.

A part of the poem I wrote a while back, 
------------------------------------------------------------

Danishmando Mazhab pay lagatay ho tohmat kyoon?
Burayee my nay ki , ek Insaan tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Shiaon, Hinduon, Ahmadiyon or Maseehon ko tukleef di
Ilzam Sunni pay mardood my tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Lagana Ilzam to mujh pe lagao, mujh ko do sazaa
A gunah to mera apna tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Dekho Ai Samajh walo, gyan walo, ilm walo, fikr walo
Sachcha aur Jhoota my tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Mata-pita , na mulla-pandit ko, saza do us ko jis ka jurm
Ai kaisi parampara a Khuda, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Samaj may insaf ho to ummeed bhi aur pragati bhi
A mamla na-insafi ka tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Thakna mera kaam nahin, my samjhata hi rahoonga Sahir
Jo bhi huwa o mera kiya tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha


------------------------------------------------------------


Since the majority of the Pakistanis are Muslims, it puts an additional responsibility on them to treat ever human on equal footing – this idea is embedded and repeated in Islam, day in and day out. Whether you pray, fast, or bury anyone – Mahmood and Ayaz are on par with each other.  Let every Pakistani be Mahmoud and Ayaz, but treated on par.

 
17 years ago for 7 years, I had a Radio program in Dallas for the Desi (people of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) people, and from August 1 through 15, every day we talked about each nation; its culture, history, geography and the foods.

On August 14th, on my Radio show, Indians would sing Pakistani National Songs and the Pakistanis would reciprocate by singing Indian National songs on the 15th.

The Partition was difficult and intense - with people moving from one land to the other and vice versa, perhaps it was the greatest human migration in a single week ever. Of course it came with massive suffering - people killing and butchering each other on both sides. Unless we both people learn to acknowledge that the suffering and infliction of misery was mutual, we will continue to harbor ill-will and inject that in our kids. Some people live with hate and ill-will until they die and never receive the true freedom.  I hope we all grow up and not carry this forward and neither runs the sewer of hate in our kid’s veins.

Again, I wish a very happy independence day to my Pakistani and Indian friends. Remember, as a Citizen of America, all citizens are equal to us. President Obama will wish Independence Day whether you are a Pakistani or Indian – and we the Americans ought to carry the same attitude.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to pluralism and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in the links at www.MikeGhouse.net  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Harvest of Hate - The story of Malala

Intisar Abbasi, thanks for sharing these piece about Malala and the people of Pakistan. The article, and additional article relating to this topic and about Malala can be found by placing "Malala" in the search box of this site.

Website: www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/TexasMuslims
Forum: WorldMuslimCongress@yahoogroups.com
Website: http://redeemingpakistan.blogspot.com/

Thanks

Mike Ghouse

A harvest of hate

From Dr Abdus Salam to Malala, there is a long list of heroes who became our victim­s and eventu­ally our enemie­s.

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Published: July 26, 2013v

The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

Masters as we are of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, we have always ensured that we fall in love with the wrong causes. The art of belittling excellence, not aspiring for it, has become our recent obsession. Anyone who dares to excel in any field is loathed, often excommunicated, ambushed or abandoned. That’s how open-hearted we have become. From Dr Abdus Salam to Malala, there is a long list of heroes who became our victims and eventually our enemies. How dumb can you be to do something so stupid? Evidently dumb.

http://pullquotesandexcerpts.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/the-trrage.jpg?w=625

But then there is the legacy of pain and hate. That pain begets hate or hate gives birth to pain, is anybody’s guess. There is no gainsaying that we are a nation born in pain, brought up in misery. And yes, we live in a rough neighborhood that makes us more susceptible to paranoia but how long will we deny that most of our demons are of our own inventions? Like an insolent child, we can refuse to accept our fault, find excuses for everything that we have done, but that will change nothing.

We sowed seeds of pain, expecting love and happiness as a produce, and now the harvest of hate is ready for reaping. Amazingly, while we always had some taste for conspiracy theories, fuelled by our desire to reconcile ignorance with some thirst for knowledge, the last decade has done more to poison our minds and souls than the rest together.

Dictators know the knack of gathering around them a deadly coterie of sycophants. When the dictators go, this coterie, just in order to survive, uses its former glory to blind people and deceive them. And their gift of creating discord is amazing. They divide and penetrate the ranks of every division and lead the flanks to Lilliputian wars of egos. And hence, the chances of a democratic and intellectual recovery are lost for decades.

Just close your eyes for a second and place yourself in the shoes of Malala. Try living through the fear of a young girl ambushed on her way back from the school. Try imagining her pain after being shot by a grown-up criminal. And ask yourself which idiot would spew hate against her after this ultimate sacrifice. Had she been in India and done this much for their country, a temple would have already been built in her honour.

They now say Malala is a conspiracy hatched by the West to propagate against the peace-loving citizens of this country and our culture. Sirs, if you notice, it is no Western message. Your state has been telling the world how much we have sacrificed in the war on terror and that while we are facing the unending scourge of terrorism, we are resilient. Malala, then, is an embodiment of our message.

Then why do they accuse of her of bringing a bad name to the country? That is because somewhere in our hearts and minds, we have not stopped owning the Taliban. Had we disowned them, we would have realised that Malala is on our side and they are killing us all with impunity. Forty thousand and counting and yet, we cannot stand up with one symbol that defines us all. What a pity.

This sad realisation brings back bad personal memories. Almost two decades ago, I came to Islamabad to study further, a simple Pakistani and a simple Muslim. Arriving in this city, I was informed that that is not my identity and that my ethnicity, my mother tongue and sect defined who I was, not my nationhood. I have fought this reductionism all my life. But I have repeatedly been defeated. Today, I stand here a beaten, defeated man.

The tragedy of this state is that it fears change. It has no realisation that what it calls its world view and view of itself is not objective reality but just an infection. It tries to shoot down anyone who tries to administer medicine. Like it or not, we have made up our mind. We have chosen our assassins over our rescuers. Now, they will sow more seeds for posterity. More hate in return.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

.....

Pakistan: The Malala backlash 

It was a shameful display of how Pakistanis have a tendency to turn on the very people they should be proud of. Prof Abdus Salam fell victim to this peculiar Pakistani phenomenon.




Source/Credit: The Star / Daily Dawn
By Bina Shah | July 21, 2013

Naysayers in her own country tore down the young woman, her father and Western nations for supporting her in her quest for education.

WHY has Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the UN on July 12, her 16th birthday, created such admiration all over the world, only to be met with a nasty backlash against the young education activist in Pakistan?

Perhaps the negative reaction of many Pakistanis to the young girl is the carping of jealous nobodies, but it bears examining because it says something profound about Pakistan.

The reaction to Malala’s words was swift in Pakistan; barely hours after she made her inspirational speech, people began complaining about its contents, the fact that the UN had dedicated an entire day to her and the adulation she was receiving from world leaders by her side.

Ignoring the text of her speech, which spoke out for the rights of girls and women and implored world leaders to choose peace instead of war, the naysayers tore down the young woman, her father, and Western nations for supporting her in her quest for education.

The insults flowed freely: Malala Dramazai was a popular epithet that popped up on Facebook pages and Twitter. The whole shooting was staged by “the West” and America, who control the Taliban. She was being used to make Pakistan feel guilty for actions that were the fault of the Western powers in the first place. Posters were circulated that showed Mukhtaran Mai and Malala with Xs through their faces, and berated the two women for speaking out about their experiences in order to receive money, popularity and asylum abroad.

Another popular refrain was “drone attacks”. Why had Malala not spoken out about drones at the UN? Why did everyone care so much about Malala and not the other girls murdered by drones? Why did America kill innocent children with drones and then lionise the young Malala to make themselves feel good that they actually cared about the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan?

It was a shameful display of how Pakistanis have a tendency to turn on the very people they should be proud of. Prof Abdus Salam fell victim to this peculiar Pakistani phenomenon, as well as the murdered child labour activist Iqbal Masih, Rimsha Masih, who recently received asylum for the threats to her life after the blasphemy case, and Kainat Soomro, the brave child who had been gang-raped and actually dared to take on her attackers.

Pakistanis have very deliberately abandoned these brave champions of justice, and each time one more joins their ranks, the accusations of fame mongering, Western agendas, and money ring out louder and louder.

The insults to Malala had a decidedly sexist tone, the comparison to Mukhtaran Mai – another Pakistani hero – making it obvious that rather than embracing female survivors of hideous, politically motivated violence, Pakistanis prefer them to shut up and go away, not to use their ordeals as a platform to campaign for justice.

What does this say about Pakistani mentality? Firstly, it illustrates the fact that most Pakistanis are very confused. As British journalist Alex Hamilton said: “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything”. Because we don’t know what to stand for, we fall victim to conspiracy theories, wild imaginings, and muddled thinking about what is so clearly right and wrong.

Secondly, people who deflect from Malala’s speech to the issue of drone attacks may believe they care about drone victims, but it is hard to find what, if anything, they have actually done for those drone victims besides register their displeasure on social media. Instead, it is a way of deflecting the guilt they feel about their own impotence, their own inability to make any substantial change or impact in this country.

A note of warning: Malala and her cause must not be hijacked by opportunists, money-makers, politicians, or those who wish to use this pure young woman for their own selfish ends.

In celebrating Malala, the world should not forget about the thousands of girls who are still in danger from extremist violence in Pakistan.

Malala’s beautiful words must be a source of inspiration for solid action on the ground in the areas most affected by the conflicts she describes.

Whether you support her or not, nobody can deny the urgent need to bring education and peace to Pakistan.

Don’t ignore this message, even if you feel like shooting the messenger all over again.


-- The writer is a novelist.
......


Kaafir Factory
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151692637430726&set=vb.31611432845974

Saturday, May 11, 2013

MY PRAYERS (DUWA) FOR PAKISTAN

As an Indian American, and as a Pluralist, I had always wished a stable and sustainable democracy for the people of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The golden rule for living is, you wish for others what you cherish it yourselves. This is a joyful event for all of us in the subcontinent.

For the first time in their 67 years of history, a smooth democratic transition is happening today, the people of Pakistan are freely electing their representatives to govern. We, the community of nations, congratulate the people of Pakistan for the exercise of their freedom. This hopefully would be a model to other Muslim majority nations to follow.

Please join me in a prayer to ask God to make this transition sustainable, and may God make this as peaceful as possible.  May God bring peace and prosperity to every Pakistani, be it a Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim Sunni, Muslim Shia, Muslim Ahmadi, Muslim Ismaili, Muslim Bohra, Zoroastrians, the tribals and all others.

May God give the courage to every Pakistani to stand up for each other, and may Justice become the core of the new government.

God bless Pakistan, Amen!

Pakistan Paindabad.

Fellow Americans, please vote for your local representatives today in the Muncipal elections, today is the last day to vote.

Mike
----

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work and social settings. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Noam Chomsky on Pakistan elections

I am a great admirer of Noam Chomsky, the nations freedom is guaranteed with Patriots like Chomsky, Hannity and others who keep the leadership on their toes. However, I am yet to understand his irrational characterization of America as a Terrorist State. The following interview with Dawn is worth reading. Mike Ghouse 

URL: http://redeemingpakistan.blogspot.com/2013/05/noam-chomsky-on-pakistan-elections.html

Courtesy of Dawn

Exclusive interview with Noam Chomsky on Pakistan elections



Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Noam Chomsky, is without doubt the most widely heard and read public intellectual alive today. Although trained in linguistics, he has written on and extensively critiqued a wide range of topics, including US foreign policy, mainstream media discourses and anarchist philosophy. Chomsky’s work in linguistics revolutionised the field and he has been described as the ‘father of modern linguistics‘. Professor Chomsky, along with other luminaries such as Howard Zinn and Dr Eqbal Ahmad, came into prominence during the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and has since spoken in support of national liberation movements (and against US imperialism) in countries such as Palestine, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In fact, his prolificacy in terms of academic and non-academic writing has earned him a spot among the ten most cited sources of all time (alongside Aristotle, Marx and Plato). Now in his mid-80s, Professor Chomsky shows no signs of slowing down and maintains an active lecturing and interview schedule. Here we caught up with him to get his views on upcoming Pakistani elections, American influence in the region and other issues.

As a country which has spent almost half of its existence under some sort of direct military rule how do you see this first ever impending transition from one democratically-elected government to another?

Noam Chomsky: Well, you know more about the internal situation of Pakistan than I do! I mean I think it’s good to see something like a democratic transition. Of course, there are plenty of qualifications to that but it is a big change from dictatorship. That’s a positive sign. And I think there is some potential for introducing badly needed changes. There are very serious problems to deal with internally and in the country’s international relations. So maybe, now some of them can be confronted.

Coming to election issues, what do you think, sitting afar and as an observer, are the basic issues that need to be handled by whoever is voted into power?

NC: Well, first of all, the internal issues. Pakistan is not a unified country. In large parts of the country, the state is regarded as a Punjabi state, not their (the people’s) state. In fact, I think the last serious effort to deal with this was probably in the 1970s, when during the Bhutto regime some sort of arrangement of federalism was instituted for devolving power so that people feel the government is responding to them and not just some special interests focused on a particular region and class. Now that’s a major problem.

Another problem is the confrontation with India. Pakistan just cannot survive if it continues to do so (continue this confrontation). Pakistan will never be able to match the Indian militarily and the effort to do so is taking an immense toll on the society. It’s also extremely dangerous with all the weapons development. The two countries have already come close to nuclear confrontation twice and this could get worse. So dealing with the relationship with India is extremely important.

And that of course focuses right away on Kashmir. Some kind of settlement in Kashmir is crucial for both countries. It’s also tearing India apart with horrible atrocities in the region which is controlled by Indian armed forces. This is feeding right back into society even in the domain of elementary civil rights. A good American friend of mine who has lived in India for many years, working as a journalist, was recently denied entry to the country because he wrote on Kashmir. This is a reflection of fractures within society. Pakistan, too, has to focus on the Lashkar [Lashkar-i-Taiba] and other similar groups and work towards some sort of sensible compromise on Kashmir.

And of course this goes beyond. There is Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan which will also be a very tricky issue in the coming years. Then there is a large part of Pakistan which is being torn apart from American drone attacks. The country is being invaded constantly by a terrorist superpower. Again, this is not a small problem.

Historically, several policy domains, including that of foreign policy towards the US and India, budget allocations etc, have been controlled by the Pakistani military, and the civil-military divide can be said to be the most fundamental fracture in Pakistan’s body politic. Do you see this changing with recent elections, keeping in mind the military’s deep penetration into Pakistan’s political economy?

NC: Yes, the military has a huge role in the economy with big stakes and, as you say, it has constantly intervened to make sure that it keeps its hold on policy making. Well, I hope, and there seem to be some signs, that the military is taking a backseat, not really in the economy, but in some of the policy issues. If that can continue, which perhaps it will, this will be a positive development.

Maybe, something like what has happened recently in Turkey. In Turkey also, for a long time, the military was the decisive force but in the past 10 years they have backed off somewhat and the civilian government has gained more independence and autonomy even to shake up the military command. In fact, it even arrested several high-ranking officers [for interfering in governmental affairs]. Maybe Pakistan can move in a similar direction. Similar problems are arising in Egypt too. The question is whether the military will release its grip which has been extremely strong for the past 60 years. So this is happening all over the region and particularly strikingly in Pakistan.

In the coming elections, all indications are that a coalition government will be formed. The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading the polls with Imran Khan’s (relatively) newly-emerged party not far behind. Do you think an impending coalition government will be sufficiently equipped to handle the myriad problems facing the country that you have just pointed out, such as civil-military imbalance, drone attacks, extremist violence etc.

NC: Well, we have a record for Nawaz Sharif but not the others. And judging by the record, it’s pretty hard to be optimistic. His [Sharif's] previous governments were very corrupt and regressive in the policies pursued. But the very fact that there is popular participation can have impact. That’s what leads to change, as it has just recently in North Africa (in Tunisia and Egypt). As far as change goes, significant change does not come from above, it comes through popular activism.

In the past month or so, statements from the US State Department and the American ambassador to Pakistan have indicated quite a few times that they have ‘no favourites’ in the upcoming elections. What is your take on that especially with the impending (formal) US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

NC: That could well be true. I do not think that US government has any particular interest in one or another element of an internal political confrontation. But it does have very definite interests in what it wants Pakistan to be doing. For example, it wants Pakistan to continue to permit aggressive and violent American actions on Pakistani territory. It wants Pakistan to be supportive of US goals in Afghanistan. The US also deeply cares about Pakistan’s relationship with Iran. The US very much wants Pakistan to cut relations with Iran which they [Pakistan] are not doing. They are following a somewhat independent course in this regard, as are India, China and many other countries which are not strictly under the thumb of the US. That will be an important issue because Iran is such a major issue in American foreign policy. And this goes beyond as every year Pakistan has been providing military forces to protect dictatorships in the Gulf from their own populations (e.g. the Saudi Royal Guard and recently in Bahrain). That role has diminished but Pakistan is, and was considered to be, a part of the so-called ‘peripheral system’ which surrounded the Middle East oil dictatorships with non-Arab states such as Turkey, Iran (under the Shah) and Pakistan. Israel was admitted into the club in 1967. One of the main purposes of this was to constrain and limit secular nationalism in the region which was considered a threat to the oil dictatorships.

As you might know, a nationalist insurgency has been going on in Balochistan for almost the past decade. How do you see it affected by the elections, especially as some nationalist parties have decided to take part in polls while others have decried those participating as having sold out to the military establishment?

NC: Balochistan, and to some extent Sindh too, has a general feeling that they are not part of the decision-making process in Pakistan and are ruled by a Punjabi dictatorship. There is a lot of exploitation of the rich resources [in Balochistan] which the locals are not gaining from. As long as this goes on, it is going to keep providing grounds for serious uprisings and insurgencies. This brings us back to the first question which is about developing a constructive from of federalism which will actually ensure participation from the various [smaller] provinces and not just, as they see it, robbing them.

It is now well-known that the Taliban’s creation was facilitated by the CIA and the ISI as part of the 1980s anti-Soviet war. But the dynamics of the Taliban now appear to be very different and complex, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as they attack governments and mainstream parties. Some people say that foreign intelligence agencies are still behind the Taliban, while others consider this a denial of home-grown problems of extremism and intolerance. How do you view the Taliban in the context of Pakistan?

NC: I can understand the idea that there is a conspiracy. In fact, in much of the world there is a sense of an ultra-powerful CIA manipulating everything that happens, such as running the Arab Spring, running the Pakistani Taliban, etc. That is just nonsense. They [CIA] created a monster and now they are appalled by it. It has its roots in internal Pakistani affairs. It’s a horrible development and phenomenon which goes back to radical Islamisation under Zia and taking away the long standing rights of people in the tribal areas (who were left largely alone). The Pashtuns in particular are kind of trapped. They’ve never accepted the Durand Line nor has any Afghan government historically accepted it. Travel from what is called Pakistan to Afghanistan has been made increasingly difficult and people are often labelled terrorists, even those who might be just visiting families. It is a border which makes absolutely no sense. It was imposed by the needs of British imperialism and all of these things are festering sores which have to be dealt with internally. These are not CIA manipulations.

Actually, US government policies are continuing to do exactly the same thing [produce terrorism]. Two days after the Boston marathon bombings, there was a drone strike in Yemen attacking a peaceful village, which killed a target who could very easily have been apprehended. But of course it is just easier to terrorise people. The drones are a terrorist weapon, they not only kill targets but also terrorise other people. That is what happens constantly in Waziristan. There happened to be a testimony in the Senate a week later by a young man who was living in the US but was originally from that village [in Yemen which was bombed]. And he testified that for years the ‘jihadi’ groups in Yemen had been trying to turn the villagers against the Americans and had failed. The villagers admired America. But this one terrorist strike has turned them into radical anti-Americans, which will only serve as a breeding ground for more terrorists.

There was a striking example of this in Pakistan when the US sent in Special Forces, to be honest, to kill Osama Bin Laden. He could easily have been apprehended and caught but their orders were to kill him. If you remember the way they did it, the way they tried to identify his [Osama’s] position was through a fake vaccination campaign set up by the CIA in the city. It started in a poor area and then when they decided that Osama was in a different area, they cut it off in the middle and shifted [the vaccination campaign] to a richer area. Now, that is a violation of principles which go as far back as the Hippocratic Oath. Well, in the end they did kill their target but meanwhile it aroused fears all over Pakistan and even as far as Nigeria about what these Westerners are doing when they come in and start sticking needles in their arms. These are understandable fears but were exacerbated. Very soon, health workers were being abducted and several were murdered (in Pakistan). The UN even had to take out its whole anti-polio team. Pakistan is one of the last places in the world where polio still exists and the disease could have been totally wiped out from this planet like smallpox. But now, it means that, according to current estimates, there will be thousands of children in Pakistan at risk of contracting polio. As a health scientist at Columbia University, Les Roberts, pointed out, sooner or later people are going to be looking at a child in a wheelchair suffering from polio and will say ‘the Americans did that to him’. So they continue policies which have similar effects i.e. organising the Taliban. This will come back to them too.


http://dawn.com/2013/05/07/exclusive-interview-with-noam-chomsky/

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Imran Khan can be an exemplary Pakistan President, if he choses integrity over appeasement

Imran Khan, can he be an exemplary prime minister?

Thanks to Daily Times, Pakistan for publishing this.
 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C08%5Cstory_8-5-2013_pg3_5

By Mike Ghouse

The fitna was started by Maulana Maududi; had it not been for him, Ziaul Haq and Bhutto, the Pakistanis would not have been belligerent towards fellow Pakistanis 


Imran Khan is by far the least-worst candidate among the field of candidates for Pakistan. Indeed, he can be an exemplary candidate if he fixes some of the flaws of sectarianism blatantly expressed by him. Khan’s statement that he has not asked the Ahmadiyya Muslims to vote for him is disturbing. Shouldn’t the future head of Pakistan’s government care about “all” Pakistanis? Does he not want to represent them? He sounded precisely like the Romney guy, thank God for saving America from him (Disclosure: I am a Republican, and he lost because not all Republicans voted for him). I see those reflections in Khan; he is playing like Romney in the last few weeks of the campaign, appeasing the right wing.


The second statement was made in Urdu, reaffirming that the Ahmadiyya are not Muslims because they do not subscribe to the Khatimun Nabiyeen, the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the last prophet, as if he exclusively represents the Sunni Muslims and the hell with the others. Is this acceptable? As a leader of the nation he represents everyone, whether they believe in the Prophet (PBUH) or not. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself set the example of respecting Jews, Christians and others who did not believe in him, and not only that, he signed the treaty with them to co-exist and co-govern their own affairs per their own laws.

If Khan is like one of those other bad guys, that would be different; but he is a decent man and probably the only hope for Pakistan. He has earned that by being honest and a non-appeaser. Now worried about winning, he has started appeasing the mullahs, and speaking the language of the Jhangvi idiots who want to declare Pakistan as a Sunni nation; the next would be Ahle-sunnat, and then those among Ahle-Sunnat whose pants length is precise to the millimeter. There is no end to appeasing or calming down the fanatics, and they would extract a pound of flesh from him.

The question is why Khan should worry about the insignificant Ahmadiyya, Shia or Hindu minority. Is that the right thing to do? Did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) not speak out for the oppressed? Here are some civil examples, and I hope at least the Pakistani Americans would understand and support it. 

1. Civil rights acts were passed to right the wrong done to the African Americans, a tiny minority. It was passed by the white majority; it was for the common good and justice, that all men are equal. Shouldn’t Islamic Republic of Pakistan adopt this? Isn’t that an Islamic value? 

2. Lincoln’s abolishment of slavery for Africans was passed by the white majority, indeed the only voters in senate then were white.

3. Barack Obama took the risk to stand up with the LGBT community where as everyone thought it was the death nail for him politically; even Muslims gave him over 80 percent of their vote, despite his support for the same sex 
marriage.

4. Humanity in general and Muslims in particular are guided to stand up for justice. Only the civility of majority can change things. 
Minorities do not have a voice in Pakistan and they live on with apprehensions. The Hindu parents worry when their daughter will be abducted and forced to convert or when the Ahmadiyya girl student will be kicked out of school or their graves are desecrated, Shias ordered out of the bus and shot point blank and Christians will be framed with blasphemy charges. Societies are judged by how they treat their minorities, women and children. Good Pakistanis are letting bad things happen in their names.

5. It is the Muslim thing to stand up against oppression.

6. ‘Baad may karliengaye’ (we will do it later), after election, is a lie. It will never happen. The foundation of Khan’s campaign should be based on integrity. As 96 percent of Pakistanis prefer freedom of faith as per the new Pew survey about Muslim attitudes towards the Sharia. Who is he representing then?

In all the cases above, there was an assumption that the majority does not favour it. Just like the statements from a few Pakistanis that Ahmadiyya should not call themselves Muslims. It is a Pakistani thing and not a Muslim thing.

Perhaps the issue started with the dictator brainwashing the vocal Pakistani public, because before that people minded their own business. The fitna was started by Maulana Maududi; had it not been for him, Ziaul Haq and Bhutto, the Pakistanis would not have been belligerent towards fellow Pakistanis. Had that evil draconian anti-Islamic Hudood laws was not shoved on to Pakistanis, they would be standing up for the rights of all Pakistanis. Dictator’s Hudood laws have become Allah’s laws now, what an Irony. The germs have infected Bangladesh and Indonesia, and now affecting a few Indian Muslims as well.

Muslims around the world have little prejudice towards the Ahmadiyya. I meet large groups of Muslim scholars, imams and ministers from Muslim nations twice a year for coaching in pluralism. They do not have the bias that a few Pakistanis vocalise. I firmly believe if there is referendum, where individuals will not be identified, the Pakistani public will overwhelmingly want to get rid of the Hudood laws and the harassment of the Ahmadiyya Muslims.

A few, just a few will say why on earth is Ghouse supporting the Ahmadiyya? My answer is simple: it is not support for the Ahmadiyya, but rather an effort to preserve the character of Muslims and Islam, which is to stand up for Justice. I have nothing to gain but hear ugly words from a few. I am better off spending my time making money, aren’t I? Doesn’t that make me run from the responsibility of doing my personal share of work towards a better world? The Prophet (PBUH) said that the least you can do is to speak up, didn’t he?

The issue is really not about Khatimun Nabiyeen, but do we as Muslims believe that Islam allows us to mistreat those who are not Sunnis? Khan should have said the Ahmadiyya (not Qadianis, which is like the N word to them) are Pakistanis, and they have every right to vote, instead of reiterating that they are not Muslims, and that as a possible head of the government I represent them and to represent them, I would ask for their vote. 

Democracy is not an easy system, it asks a lot from everyone. It is testing one’s ability to hear different opinions without feeling hatred for the others. Most Muslims have democracy in their hearts and souls; many more are yet to get it. Thank God, I was a minority in India, and a minority in the US. The majoritarian arrogance is not by the majority, but by a few among them, who assume a blanket authorisation by the silence of the real majority. It is time for the majority to speak up and get Imran Khan to represent every Pakistani without discrimination. If not he is just another politician claiming to follow the Prophet (PBUH), but he is not.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes his work through many links

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Pakistanis Who Won’t Vote

It is a shame that in this day and age, the Pakistanis dictators have made the lives of ordinary Pakistanis difficult. Here is a great example of brainwashing the whole nation with hatred for Ahmadiyya Muslims. 96% of Pakistanis believe in freedom of religion, but they need to speak up. Their belief means nothing, if they cannot speak up.  - Mike Ghouse


By Umar Farooq


Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Members of the Ahmadi community community prayed during Friday prayers in Lahore, July 16, 2010.
Rights groups welcome Pervez Musharraf-era reforms to Pakistan’s electoral system, which helped put religious minorities on an equal footing with Muslims. But Ahmadis say they were left out, and some other religious minorities say they still don’t have adequate representation in Parliament.
“We want to be part of the mainstream, but they [the government] won’t let us. They are keeping us out of elections,” a spokesman for Pakistan’s Ahmadi community said.
Muslim extremists in Pakistan persuaded the government to pass a constitutional amendment in 1974 declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates there are at least one million Ahmadis in the country.
Ahmadis follow the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a late 19th Century reformer who they consider a prophet.  Most orthodox Muslims believe there were no prophets after Prophet Muhammad.
In 1985, President Zia-ul-Haq altered the country’s election laws so that when someone registered to vote, they were put into a group based on their religion. Non-Muslim groups were given a handful of seats in Parliament and barred from voting in general elections for their districts. Ahmadis, for example, regardless of where they lived in Pakistan, could only vote to elect representatives to one of two reserved seats at the national level.
The rules left minorities without effective representation, said I.A. Rehman, secretary general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Even in districts where minorities made up a sizable chunk of the population, they were never courted by mainstream candidates because they couldn’t vote for them.
In January 2002, President Musharraf introduced a “joint electorate,” lifting the requirement to declare religion when registering to vote. Millions of Hindus and Christians in Pakistan were listed along with Muslims, and could vote in general elections.
Ahmadis could also vote in general elections, but they were listed separately to Muslims, Hindus and Christians. Also, any candidate running for office was still required to sign a document saying Ahmadis were not Muslims.
“We are glad that in 2002 that system was abolished and replaced with a joint electorate. Now Muslims and non-Muslims living in the same street have their names in [a single list] – except for members of the Ahmadi community,” said Mr. Rehman.
“The Ahmadi community has a right to vote, like all other citizens, but they are not enrolled in a joint list,” he added.
A spokesman for Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, confirmed that the agency keeps a separate list of Ahmadis in each district.
The separate listing means that despite the 2002 reforms, most of Pakistan’s Ahmadis will boycott the upcoming elections on May 11, as they have been doing since the separate electoral rolls were first introduced.  “They don’t get registered as voters and they don’t take part in elections,” said Mr. Rehman.
The Ahmadi community spokesman said voting would affirm the government’s view that he is not a Muslim. “We Ahmadis do not want to disassociate ourselves from the Prophet Muhammad,” he said.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court took up a petition against the practice last month, but neither Pakistan’s Attorney General nor the Election Commission replied to the court’s request to explain why Ahmadis were being listed separately. The listing could also allow religious extremists to easily identify Ahmadis in each electoral district, the Ahmadi spokesman said. In 2010, 86 Ahmadis were killed in attacks on worshippers in two mosques in Lahore.  Last year, at least 20 Ahmadis were killed in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s constitution sets aside 10 seats in Parliament for religious minorities, but they are not filled by direct elections. After general elections, each political party nominates candidates from minority communities for the seats based on the party’s proportional representation in the new Parliament.
“People are chosen for us,” said Zeeshan Joseph of the All Pakistan Christian League.  “When our homes, our churches are destroyed, all we get are checks. We don’t need checks, we need justice.”
Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Houses of Christians torched by a mob in Lahore, March 11, 2013.
Mr. Joseph says minority representatives are not accountable to the groups they are supposed to represent, but only to the political party that nominates them. A handful of minority groups, including the All Pakistan Christian League, advocate giving minorities in Pakistan a second vote, which they would use to select parliamentarians to fill the 10 reserved seats.
The right to cast two votes played a decisive role in the creation of Pakistan. In 1909, British rulers ceded to pressure by Muslims in India, allowing them a second vote for seats reserved for Muslims. Mr. Joseph says that without the additional representation in the colonial legislature, Muslims wouldn’t have been able to demand an independent state of Pakistan.
“We are sincerely loyal to Pakistan, but we are being kept from being politically involved. In our churches, the first thing we pray for is the well-being of our country and of our leaders,” he said.
Umar Farooq is an independent journalist based in Pakistan.  He blogs at umar-farooq.com and tweets @UmarFarooq_ 
Follow India Real Time on Twitter @indiarealtime.
Copyright 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved