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Media in the Cross Hairs: Militants continue to Target Journalists in Pakistan

 

Despite the commitments of the Pakistan government to protect journalists, media freedoms remain endangered in the country. Pakistani journalists continue to struggle with the threats posed by violent extremists who consider media to be a legitimate target. In fact, extremists often target the media because it ensures that they will get publicity in the form of coverage.

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9/11 and Deluded Pakistanis

September 12th, 2014|Extremism, Middle East, Pakistan, Storify, terrorism|0 Comments

Pakistan: At the edge of the abyss?

Pakistan’s blasphemy law is used to fuel violence and death.

 

 

The recent murder of a brave human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman reminds us of the society we have shaped. It is now an unregulated space where even defending the rights of an accused is a crime. Rehman had made all the threats, including those in the courtroom, public. The local state authorities did next to nothing to protect him or rein in the individuals and groups preaching violence. It seems when it comes to religiously motivated violence the might of the state disappears. Victims of blasphemy law are no longer fit for due process. They need to be punished directly. A few days after the murder of Rehman, another accused of blasphemy was shot dead by a teenager in a police station near Lahore.

Since the brutal murder of Salmaan Taseer in January 2011, debates on the colonial blasphemy law have disappeared from the public domain. Those who advocated against its misuse were also silenced through litigation in courts by the right-wing lobbies that no longer constitute the lunatic fringe. In fact, the idea of blasphemy as a threat to Pakistan’s carefully constructed “Islamic” identity mixes passion, politics and power. A state that quietly smiles at the success of its project is now complicit in mob justice and even brutal killings such as the one that took Rashid Rehman’s life. […]

Myths, fables and lies: The murder of history in Pakistan

KK Aziz’s seminal study, ‘The Murder of History’ is essential to understand what went wrong in Pakistan. The most worrying sign of an insecure and fissured polity is when it reinvents, twists and lies about its history especially relating to its genesis and progress. K K Aziz was not an Indian nationalist, nor a screaming ideologue who wanted Pakistan to fritter away. In fact his early work The Making of Pakistanremains an essential reading on how Pakistan came into being. He believed in Pakistan despite his emotional links to the separated eastern part of the Punjab. However, at the zenith of his career he could not conceal his deep anguish and disappointment with the way ‘History’ in his beloved country had turned into sham-narratives comprising fables, myths and outright deceit.

Three brutal realities by the end of Zia era were clear: Pakistan’s military-bureaucracy complex had reinvented an ideological state based on a sectarian worldview; History was an instrument of propagating this ideology; and the jihad factories were flourishing. Jinnah’s Pakistan had been irreversibly shattered and perhaps destroyed. For K K Aziz’s generation this was nothing short of a great betrayal.

Published in the early 1990s, ‘The Murder of History’ for the first time documented a meticulous analysis of the history books taught in Pakistani schools and colleges. The book revolves around the main argument that History and Pakistan Studies curricula was nothing more political propaganda aimed at indoctrinating young minds through half-truths and blatant falsehoods. […]

Living in Denialistan

The recent attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is another reminder of the plain truth that the Pakistani state needs to focus on its domestic crises rather than remain obsessive about external threats. The unholy conglomerate comprising al Qaeda, sectarian outfits and elements within the state has targeted Karachi’s best-known public and cultural space. This is a continuation of Islamist battles against Pakistan.

Yet, apologists remain adamant. Butchering of civilians and annihilation of a plural Sufi culture is a reaction, we are told. First, it was the US occupation of Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq and now drone attacks in Pakistan. True, Muslims and Pakistanis are enraged at US policies and its sheer arrogance in dealing with the region. But using anti-Americanism as an excuse to overlook the growing cancer of bigotry at home is disingenuous and dangerous for our future. […]

October 13th, 2010|governance, Pakistan, Published in the Express Tribune|6 Comments

Is this Jinnah’s Pakistan?

The massacre of Ahmadis in Lahore has once again exposed the inner fissures of our society. As if treating them like second class citizens was not enough, the attacks on their private space of worship has confirmed that militant Islamism is now an embedded reality

Lahore – a nightmare that is still not over

Updated: my quotes in Tehran Times

Today’s events in Lahore have shaken the entire country. The zealots and the bigots aside, an ordinary Pakistani is baffled at the scale and impunity of the violence. A terrorist has been captured – perhaps more as events unfold. But will they be punished or we will find more lame excuses that the Ahmedis by worshipping in their mosques were provoking the believers.

The Taliban want to eliminate all diversity and pluralism from Pakistan. The process alas started in the 1950s and Bhutto’s tragic actions and Zia years have planted bigotry and intolerance. Fundamentalism is now a cancer that has widely spread in the body politic. Yet, no one wants to tackle it. For the past two years, get Zardari debates have dominated Pakistan’s public discourse punctuated by the anti-Americanism of the Right. […]

May 29th, 2010|Lahore, Pakistan, Politics, terrorism|3 Comments