‘Undoing minorities will undo Pakistan’ by Fayyaz Baqir

azadi-5-shahidmirza
Azadi 5 by Shahid Mirza

Pakistan was created for minority rights. Jinnah and Iqbal did not want the tyranny of colonial rule to be replaced by tyranny of Hindu majority over Muslim minority in India. Same problem was encountered by the untouchables. One option proposed for protecting the rights of minorities in united India was to create separate electorates for Muslims and untouchables. The British agreed to this proposal but Congress leadership rejected the idea.

Separate electorates could have institutionalized power-sharing for minority communities in united India. Indian National Congress (INC) preferred a separate homeland for Muslims over sharing power with them. INC used structural violence prevalent in caste ridden Indian society to deny the untouchables any power-sharing arrangement. Gandhi started a fast-to-death to pressurize the leader of untouchable community Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar to withdraw his demand for a separate electorate for untouchables. The use of so called ‘non-violence’ to perpetuate social violence led to a bitter reaction, and in an interview with BBC Ambedkar called Gandhi a double dealer and he led at least one million of his untouchable followers to convert to Buddhism to escape the horror of caste system in India. Due to denial of share in political power to untouchables under the Congress’s ‘secular’ rule he died a disillusioned man as Law Minister in Nehru’s cabinet. The core conflict between the Congress and Muslim League was therefore a conflict between secular unilateralism and secular multilateralism.

Muslim League’s multilateralism was not fully developed, and it has maintained strongly unilateralist character to this day. Soon after the creation of Pakistan, the Muslim leadership had a rude awakening to the many divides defining majorities and majorities in the newly created homeland for Muslims. After getting rid of majority Hindu rule, West Pakistan (say Punjab) based Muslim League leadership realized that it was threatened by the majority vote power of Bengalis, it dumped its embryonic secular multilateralism by substituting its theocratic unilateralism for secular unilateralism.

One unit and civilian and military dictatorships denied Bengalis their share in power up until the first fair elections held in 1970. This time Bengalis were subjected to military action, coerced to secede and blamed for the sins of military junta. Finding a formula for sharing power with minorities has haunted Pakistan throughout its history.

Pakistani leadership has dealt with ethnic and religious minorities unlike the way it wanted the Muslim minorities to be treated in Hindu majority India. Numerous military actions, truces and broken promises were used to deal with the demands of Balochis for the fair share in resources located in areas inhabited by them. Legally elected governments of Pukhtuns and Balochis were dismissed from power by a secular People’s Party over fake charges.

During the post-cold war period ethnic, sectarian and religious minorities have been subjected to discrimination by the state, ruthless terrorist attacks, vicious killings, and loss of dignity. Attacking the places of worship, religious gatherings, graveyards and funeral prayers of minority groups, abducting and killing members of these communities, and unleashing a narrative of hatred against them through text books, clergy and media will not lead to extermination of dissenting voices but to unraveling of Pakistan. Brutalization of Pakistani society will not strengthen Pakistan’s defense; it will lead to dismemberment of its social fabric.

The issue; however, is that the societal conflict in Pakistan, although presented as a conflict between theocratic and secular politics, is framed in terms of secular unilateralism versus religious unilateralism. The core issue is to reclaim the space encroached upon by unilateralism in the name of faith and patriotism, and strive for institutionalization of a multilateral discourse. Pitching unilateralist secularism against unilateralist religion will not take us very far.

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Sheikh Hasina Wajed! Protect Bangladesh’s Secular People from Religious Fanatics!

Stand against religious fanatics in Bangladesh.
Send a message to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

‘The Almighty’ by Fauzia Rafique

Wallah! Allah is my most
recent aphrodisiac

We Have Your words – 2

rickshaw-muhammadbootasarwar
سیکولر جمہوریت کا راستہ، پاکستان کے بچاؤ اور تعمیر کا راستہ
Photo from Muhammad Sarwar Boota’s Facebook page

Here are some more of your inspiring reasons for signing the Petition for a Secular Pakistan.

Amna Buttar
MADISON, UNITED STATES
18 days ago
‘Fanaticism and murders in the name of religion must end’

Chandni Vikram
GAYA, INDIA
20 days ago
‘Separate Religion from State. Remove Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy.’

Nawaz Soomro
BURNABY, CANADA
27 days ago
‘History tells us that social progress can only be made when State rises abow the beleif systems. Common good demands state to be blind to individual beleifs. The only way to progress for the Land of Pure is to unsubscribe religious fundamentalists. Love.’

Sajjad Chaudhry
BISHOP’S STORTFORD, UNITED KINGDOM
about 1 month ago
‘Secular Pakistan will prosper.’

Sadia Khawar
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘I condemn the act of hatred against any sect.’

Zohaib Ansari
MARKHAM, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘It’s about time’

Imran Mirza
HAMMOND, NY
about 1 month ago
‘I love my country.’

Alexandra Garita
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
about 1 month ago
‘El pueblo musulmam y sus niños tienen derechos…a libertad …a la vida y a la NO AGRESION…’

Shahnaz Ahad
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘i want pakistan should be like this’

Afia Siddiqi
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘I’m signing because I do not want to be persecuted and killed in the name of Islam.’

Sareer Ara
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘The corrupt Governments, Political and Religious parties have confused the people about religion and human rights. A distorted version of Islam and democracy is being used for a few people’s vested interests. In order to put a stop to the killing of the innocents in the name of Islam and to stop violations of human rights, we need to redefine our priorities about our lives.’

Mahnaz Rahman
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘religion is our personal matter’

Khan Yasmin
IRVING, TX
about 1 month ago
‘Enough is enough. Pakistan is going down a rabbit hole because of the jahil mullas and religion..’

Javed Tariq
CALGARY, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘I believe religion can’t secure international human Rights standards. In Pakistan minorities are very unsafe.’

Jagjit Singh
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘to save Pakistan, to save the future of our children’

Hilda Saeed
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Pakistan’s growing religious extremism and repeated contravention of human rights are beyond ‘bardasht’/are unbearable.’

Sarwat Mangrio
BRIER, WA
about 1 month ago
‘We need to progress as a nation, unless we separate religion from politics, we can never achieve our goals’

Surjeet Kalsey
BURNABY, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘In the name of Children of Peshawar stop terrorism and killing anywhere in the World..’

Sohail Pirzada
SOUTHLAKE, TX
about 1 month ago
‘That was indeed the ideology on which Pakistan was created’

Mohammad Khalid Siddiqui
AL GUARYAT NORTHERN REGION, SAUDI ARABIA
about 1 month ago
‘Because of Changazians’

Zaheer Siddiqui
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Secular Democratic Republic of Pakistan …only and only can survive, Islamic Republic is full of chaos and is withering away in front of our eyes. Pakistan and the people should behave like other 98% of the rest of the world do.’

Lubna Baig
CALGARY, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘This will bring peace and harmony and end to religious extremism’

Talat Chaudhry
OTTAWA, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘Need a secular country, only than there will be equality for all.’

Nosheen Syed
KARACHI, SINGAPORE
about 1 month ago
‘Religion has nothing to do with the affairs of the state — it’s between man and God’

Ajmer Rode
BURNABY, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘It simply would be a wonderful thing to happen on this earth’

Mimi Khan
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
about 1 month ago
‘I believe in Secularism and I believe in Pakistan.’

Nazhath Ashraf
OTTAWA, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘This is key to our survival’

Nadine Zubair
NORWICH, UNITED KINGDOM
about 1 month ago
‘All citizens should be equal when it comes to rights and responsibilities.’

D M
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘because enough is enough.’

Shaheryar Azhar
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Only under secularism is complete freedom of religion ensured and sectarian passions subdued.’

Halima Ahmad
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘i believe in change for good. I believe we deserve to be free of fear. I believe the world is a place for all.’

Tabish Ali
BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM
about 1 month ago
‘The Greatest Prophet of Islam (all Prophets of God /Allah, peace be upon them, were propagating Islam, Islam did not begin in Arabia), established a state with concept of secularism enshrined within it. The Quran states there is no compulsion in religion. Religion is completely personal and private matter between man and Creator. Then by what strange reasoning other than selfish arrogance are we Muslims, being the majority in Pakistan, going against the explicit directives of Quran and Prophet? Islam is not under any threat from others, we are the ones harming its image by our own egotistic selves..’

Huma Naz
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Pakistan democracy need this thought spread out. We all should know clearly that state, religion and army all three are different from other.’

Khooban Altaf
RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Equal rights for everyone and hoping for better future’

Fareeha Khan
WEST PALM BEACH, FL
about 1 month ago
‘I believe religion deprives you of all the happiness in life and that it shouldn’t have to be incorporated in every single thing we do every second of the day!!’

Fariha Alavi
MISSISSAUGA, CANADA
about 1 month ago
‘Pakistan needs to get out of extremism.’

Faiza Javed
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘thanks for being sensible and rational.’

Xivraiz Ayaz
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Pakistan has fallen due to religion. It should be the state where every religion, ethnicity, frame of mind, gender, sexual orientation etc should be welcome and respected.’

Kamil Aziz Khan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘Agreed!’

Mohsin Zia
FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘i want peace and secure future for my children, religion is my personal mater not of my state’s. I will be answerable for my deeds not my state.’

Saleha Rauf
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘I want a secular Pakistan!’

Pervez Akhtar
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
about 1 month ago
‘A real democracy in pakistan could be achieved,’

Khurshid Qureshi
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
about 1 month ago
‘I love Pakistan’

Amber Hussain
LEICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM
about 1 month ago
‘I think Islam is not violent’

Many thanks for your thoughts and words.

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Secular Pakistan Petition at Change.org

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We Have Your Words – 1

lahoreagainsttaliban-irfanmufti

Lahore, January 16, 2015. Photo from Irfan Mufti

Since we published our first installment of ‘We have your Words‘ last week containing the first 30 comments on the Secular Pakistan Petition, there were strong demonstrations of solidarity by Pakistanis around the World with Peshawar, Charlie Hebdo, and against all religious/sectarian violence. The slogans such as ‘Pakistan Against Terrorism’, ‘Lahore Against Taliban’ and ‘Silence is Criminal’ were raised. Many of us stood against the establishment of Military Courts in Pakistan as not being a solution to the fight against Taliban. We know, the causes lie elsewhere.

Here, your words tell us why. View the next 32 comments on the Petition for a Secular Pakistan.

Talat Afroze
TORONTO, CANADA
29 days ago
‘After several generations of Pakistan’s citizens having suffered from Obscurantism, it is high time that the State stops dictating what religious beliefs Pakistani citizens should nurture ! Leave every Pakistani’s religion alone and give us good governance instead!’

Feroze Jamall
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘The only way forward…’

Anita Kanitz
STUTTGART, GERMANY
29 days ago
“A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand.” ― Ankita Singhal

Husnain Baig
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘enough is enough’

Kamran Noorani
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I truly believe this is THE solution’

Babar Ayaz
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Because I strongly believe Pakistan has to be re-imagined as a Secular Democratic Republic to treat its genetic defect’

Sanjar Mirza
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘God created all human beings equal. HE did not create them Muslims, Hindus, Christians. Children adopt the religion of their parents. Islam taught us tolerence, peace and not genocide and murder’

Aref Deen
HYDERABAD, INDIA
29 days ago
‘It’s time to do it.’

Masood K NEEDHAM
MA
29 days ago
‘I believe that a secular state will give full religious rights to all persons of whatever faith or Aqenda they may have. In fact public life is not supposed to interfere in another persons faith which remains a matter of his personal choice and the choice of his co-religionists, as long they are not forcing this choice on others and as long as the State protects this right of religious freedom.’

Anwer Jafri
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Hi! I just signed the petition “The Government, The Judiciary and the Army of Pakistan: Separate Religion from State, Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy” on Change.org.
‘It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:
Change.org
‘Thanks! Anwer’

Aaryan Ramzan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Name a successful theocratic state? Name any successful state which is not secular? Enough! Looking at the results and wanting more of the same is simply insanity.’

Faiza Khan
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I support the idea that all citizens of Pakistan be treated equally.’

Wendell Rodricks
COLVALE GOA, INDIA
29 days ago
‘We want our neighbours to have peace and no religious terror’

Tariq Mahmood
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I honestly believe this is the only way to start solving our problems’

Naushervan Beg
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘To save my country’

Salman Kham
MISSISSAUGA, CANADA
29 days ago
‘I’m signing becaus that’s the only way to save Pakistan from perpetual destruction.’

Kausar Bashir
BUENA PARK, CA
29 days ago
‘to declare pakistan a secular state and the word Islamic republic be removed from constitution.’

Abdulrahman Rafiq
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘This is the only way forward. As a nation Pakistan must reacquaint itself with Jinnah Sahab’s vision.’

Sasha Ali
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
29 days ago
‘I believe in the supermacy of human rights and rational thinking.’

Adnan Shah
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘State Religion is the root cause of Patronizing, Promotion, Preach & Practice of “Religionization/ Talibanization” mindset in state as well as non state organizations. in other words “Division, Conflict & discrimination based on religious identity is the logical outcome of state religion.” So Separate Religion from state. No To State Religion’

Farhana Shakir
DUBLIN, IRELAND
29 days ago
‘We want diversity, we want peace for everyone regardless of any religon, faith or NO faith.’

Bilal Farooqi
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Separation of religion from the State is not only essential for Pakistan’s progress, but for its very existence!’

Arjumand Rahim
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I dream to live in a secular Pakistan that respects and protects every Pakistani irrespective of caste or creed. We are all equal human beings.’

Sheema Kermani
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I think the only way forward for Pakistan is this!’

Wajahat Masood
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I believe that a nation state can only be a secular state.’

Shafi Edwardian
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘It’s high time we separated religion from the state as was done in Europe lately. But better be late than never.’

Noreen Zehra
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Nobody’s business (religion) is my business!’

G. M. Lakho
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘”Separate Religion from State!” Yes, but the point is how? The “Secular Pakistan” must come up with clear words by saying “NO TO THE STATE RELIGION” of Pakistan. It must demand repeal of the State Religion from the Constitution of Pakistan. What is the “root cause” of Peshawar tragedy? Our Pak (mis)-rulers have no answer of this question or they have the answer but do not like to share it with public. The Pak Media is not in a mood to discuss the “root cause”. Yet, they are saying parrot-like non-stop that anyone who is not ready to condemn Peshawar tragedy is mentally sick or ally of enemy but “we can’t ignore the root cause of this tragedy”. Thank you for admitting that you can’t ignore the “root cause” of this tragedy. But it is not enough. You should do more. Stop raising dust in the air. The demand of your good faith is to identify this “root cause”. The demand of your honesty is call the “root cause” with its correct name. You must admit in clear words free from the fetters of ifs and buts that the “root cause” of this tragedy is rooted in the Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan and that its name is “State Religion”. If you are sincere in saying that you can’t ignore the “root cause” of this tragedy; then, please take first step and “root” it out from paper, i.e., erase State Religion from the Pak Constitution. How much common sense do you need for saying that the “root cause” of Peshawar tragedy is the State Religion of Pakistan? Just imagine a moment when all good and honest citizens will start to walk on roads with this badge: “SAY NO TO STATE RELIGION”.’ (Earlier published as ‘But the point is how?’ By Ghulam Mustafa Lakho)

Tanvir Khan
NEEDHAM, UNITED STATES
29 days ago
‘This is what I believe.’

Samina Geti
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘There is no religion of state.’

Abdul Hameed Nayyar
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I believe the quest for establishing a religious state in Pakistan has hurt it immensely, and the salvation of the society lies in a secular set up.’

Naveed Butt
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I signed the petition, however there was no reason to address Judiciary and Army. These institutions do not have any role in policy making (or maybe should not have, in Pakistan’s case)’

Thank you.

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Secular Pakistan Petition at Change.org

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We Have Your Words

Yes, we have your reasons for signing the Secular Pakistan Petition at Change.org.

The Petition was started as one of the things we needed to do after the so-called blasphemy related burning-alive murders of Shaheed Bibi Shama Masih and Shaheed Shahzad Masih in November, and than the school massacre of 132 children in Peshawar by Taliban in December. And now, the murders in Paris of 12 people (I’m Charlie) for ‘offending’ the same groups of religious fanatics.

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We want to share with our readers some of your words and thoughts because they so very well express our common desire to have a secular society with equal rights for all where extreme religious factions do not find a home.

Here, we begin with 30 comments. The first comment was posted 23 days ago by Nasir Khan from Manchester UK, and you will find it right at the bottom of this post.

Shoaib Mir
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
20 days ago
‘Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, said that religion has nothing to do with the affairs of State. Period.’

Saeed Ahmed
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
20 days ago
‘Because i think that the true democracy cannot be achieved without secularism and that means the right to exercise religion must be an act of an individual and the religion must be separated from state….’

Raheel Naseem Naseem
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
21 days ago
‘its the only way to prosper!’

Wasim Ashraf Rasa
HYDERABAD SINDH, PAKISTAN
21 days ago
‘The country cannot walk on the path of glory without separating both religion and state.’

Pilar Roldan
MAIRENA DEL ALJARAFE, SPAIN
21 days ago
‘Religion is not the way to lead a Country’

Qureshi Manzoor
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
21 days ago
‘I agree to it’

Suhas Khale
LONDION, UNITED KINGDOM
21 days ago
‘I think it is the right thing to do’

Muhammad Hashim
QUETTA, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘I believe in secular democracy’

Abdul Azeez
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘I consider it essential for Pakistan’

Neelam Farid
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘i completely agree with this petition’

Rashid Khatri
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
22 days ago
‘Like to see a soceity without hate…!!!’

Asim Shah
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
22 days ago
‘This the only way to end religious fanaticism and have a peaceful and prosper Pakistan.’

Maha Khan
AUSTRALIA
22 days ago
‘this needs to be DONE ASAP…’

Annem Chaudhry
AUSTRALIA
22 days ago
‘i believe Pakistan can rise beyond the limits of religion’

Hamid Ali Hussain
FRANFURT, GERMANY
22 days ago
‘The jinnah´s vision was a Secular Democracy…’

Hamid Ali Hussain
FRANFURT, GERMANY
22 days ago
‘State is always a nuetral body with equal rights to every citizen..’

Tyra Moin L
ONGBEACH, UNITED STATES
22 days ago
‘that is my watan we r talking about!!’

Christine Hyatt
SURREY, B.C., CANADA
22 days ago
‘I don’t want children to be murdered’

Nabeela Kiani
LOUISVILLE, KY
22 days ago
‘a must to do’

Kausar Jamal
RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘It is as important for the future of Pakistan as oxygen for human existence’

Ashiq Jaffri
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘I agree with contents of petition’

Sandy London
AUSTRALIA
22 days ago
‘Pakistan’s estimated population is over 188 million, some of that population needs to be recognised as equal citizens, despite not being Muslims. Any time a state attempts to define and impose religious orthodoxy, basic human rights get shredded. Pakistan is generally perceived to be a nation populated with rather a lot of religious lunatics, and I do not mean just your average culturally religious individual, but rather people who embrace the medieval idea that murdering those of a different belief is a really good idea, so much so that they act upon that thought. While it is true that such individuals do indeed reside there

‘in Pakistan, the real truth is that like everywhere else, most Pakistanis are not that fanatical at all. The Pakistani parliament has no business attempting to define who a Muslim is or who is not. Islam is not compatible with secularism and for this very reason Pakistan needs to change. The separation of church and state is a key foundation of any society and constitution. Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major and highly destructive phenomenon in recent years. The Pakistani government seems to have learnt no lessons. An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has granted bail to Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi. The court cited the reason that the prosecution has been unable to provide evidence against him. Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi was responsible for the Mumbai attacks in 2008 which killed 166 people and injured over 600. What a message to the terrorists after the Peshawar massacre of innocent children and teachers. Instead of reigning in these monsters you are setting more of them free. How many more innocent lives need to be lost? For Christ’s sake Pakistan, wake up. The world is watching, the Peshawar massacre has shook the world.’

Salma Minhas
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘I am signing it because I think the survival of our country depends on it.’

Chanda Bokhari
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
22 days ago
‘This law has to go’

Inayat Abdali
GILGIT, PAKISTAN
23 days ago
‘i want to see pakistan secular sate.’

Rafiq Durrani
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN
23 days ago
‘We cannot suffer anymore’

Diep Syeda
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
23 days ago
‘A secular state’

Abid Hussain
FREIBURG, GERMANY
23 days ago
‘Because states don’t have religion. People do.’

Soban Khalid
TORONTO, CANADA
23 days ago
‘Because states don’t have religion. People do.’

Nasir Khan
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM
23 days ago
‘I care deeply about future of Pakistan and believe that religious fanaticism mixed with politics is root cause of many violent crimes in Pakistan.’

Thank you.

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‘But the point is how?’ By Ghulam Mustafa Lakho

The following is Ghulam Mustafa Lakho’s comment on the petition for a secular Pakistan.

lakho

”Separate Religion from State!’ Yes, but the point is how? The ‘Secular Pakistan’ must come up with clear words by saying ‘NO TO THE STATE RELIGION’ of Pakistan. It must demand repeal of the State Religion from the Constitution of Pakistan.

‘What is the ‘root cause’ of Peshawar tragedy? Our Pak (mis)-rulers have no answer to this question or they have the answer but do not like to share it with public. The Pak Media is not in a mood to discuss the ‘root cause’. Yet, they are saying parrot-like non-stop that anyone who is not ready to condemn Peshawar tragedy is mentally sick or ally of enemy but ‘we can’t ignore the root cause of this tragedy’. Thank you for admitting that you can’t ignore the ‘root cause’ of this tragedy. But it is not enough. You should do more. Stop raising dust in the air. The demand of your good faith is to identify this ‘root cause’. The demand of your honesty is call the ‘root cause’ with its correct name. You must admit in clear words free from the fetters of ifs and buts that the ‘root cause’ of this tragedy is rooted in the Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan and that its name is ‘State Religion’. If you are sincere in saying that you can’t ignore the ‘root cause’ of this tragedy; then, please take first step and ‘root’ it out from paper, i.e., erase State Religion from the Pak Constitution.

‘How much common sense do you need for saying that the ‘root cause’ of Peshawar tragedy is the State Religion of Pakistan? Just imagine a moment when all good and honest citizens will start to walk on roads with this badge: ‘SAY NO TO STATE RELIGION’. So, please care to sign and share this petition in solidarity with non-Muslim and non-believer victims of the State Religion: the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion.

‘Thanks and regards.’

We have added this sentence to the petition for a secular Pakistan: ‘Remove Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan’.

Many thanks to Ghulam Mustafa Lakho for his thoughts, and for carrying the petition for the recognition of an International Day Against State Religion.

This is our first post to bring forward the comments or ‘reasons for signing’ the petition for a secular Pakistan by its Supporters. Find them at the bottom of the Petition page.

Contact Secular Pakistan at secularpakistan11@gmail.com
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Separate Religion from State. Declare Pakistan to be Secular – Petition

Petitioning
The Government
The Judiciary and
The Army of Pakistan!

candle-lights

To assure that incidents such as the tragedy of Peshawar and ongoing violence against minority populations do not continue to happen, and that the Taliban and other violent religious formations do not flourish in Pakistan, please acknowledge one of the root causes of it.

Separate Religion from State!

Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy.

Secular Pakistan
With 82 Supporters

Help Us Reach 100,000 Signatures
Sign and Share
change.org
Photo from Noor Mir
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‘Deliberate distortion of the reality lived by Muslim women’ by Haroon Siddiqui

By:  Columnist, The Star. 

The two most cited reasons in support of Quebec’s anti-niqab bill are that the veil is an imposed oppression since no woman would ever voluntarily wear it and, second, that the province’s proposal to deny public services to niqabi women is far less punitive than the strictures imposed on non-Muslims in some Muslim countries.

The first proposition is conjecture. The second is misguided moral equivalency.

We can’t, and don’t, run Canada by the rules of theocracies. Ours is a secular democracy, in which all citizens are equal and must be treated as such – not as a favour to them but as a duty to our Constitution.

This is so obvious a point as to be moot. But it is not with those who argue, quite seriously, that since Iran discriminates against Baha’is and Jews, and Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Muslims to even hold public religious services, Canadian Muslims shouldn’t complain if their rights are trampled.

Controversies are the lifeblood of democracy but they also provide insights into public prejudices.

It is commonly assumed that Muslim women the world over are oppressed, so they must be in Canada as well. Even intelligent people, including some academics, routinely parrot that line, with zero proof.

Muslim women are oppressed all right. But are they any more so than others?

Take violence against women. Studies show that the phenomenon cuts across class, race, culture and religion. A World Health Organization survey found violence against women by spouses/partners to be “a common experience worldwide.” In Europe, “domestic violence is the major cause of death and disability for women aged 16 to 44, and accounts for more death and ill-health than cancer or traffic accidents,” according to Amnesty International. A quarter of American women are physically or sexually assaulted by a partner or a date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take women in leadership roles. The three most populous Muslim nations – Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh – have had women leaders. So has Turkey. Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia served two terms each. Compare that to Kim Campbell, who was prime minister for 4 1/2 months.

In Pakistan’s National Assembly, 76 of 342 members are women – 22.2 per cent, compared with Canada’s 22.1 per cent in the Commons. Counting all elected women at the federal, provincial and municipal level, Pakistan ranks well ahead of Canada, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Take post-secondary education. Several Muslim nations, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, are showing the same trend as in the West, where a majority of students are women.

Contrast all this to the relentlessly negative portrayal of Muslim women in our popular culture. And when this image is grafted onto Muslim women in the West, the picture gets further distorted.

A Gallup survey shows that Muslim American women are among the most highly educated female religious groups, second only to Jewish American women. They are more likely than American Muslim men to have college and postgraduate degrees and to earn as much. “As a group, Muslim Americans have the highest degree of economic gender parity at the high and low ends of the spectrum.”

I can’t find comparable figures for Canada but there is little reason to think it is much different.

A separate Gallup poll shows majorities of Muslim women around the world believe that women should have the same legal rights as men. They may not equate the bikini with liberation but their aspirations are not much different than those of women elsewhere. This is even more so for Muslim women living in the West.

Also, the general values of Muslims living in Europe and North America, both men and women, are the same as those of other citizens.

None of this is to deny the many horrors inflicted daily on Muslim women or that some Canadian women may be forced to wear a veil. It is only to say that the opposite assumption – that all or nearly all are oppressed – is stupid and dishonest.

As Pankaj Mishra, noted Indian essayist and novelist and a Hindu familiar with the plight of women of all faiths, writes:

“Almost every day, the media berate Islam, often couching their prejudice in the highly moral language of women’s rights: It is not due to oversight that Indian women murdered for failing to bring sufficient dowry, a staggering 6,787 in 2005 (and since reported at 8,093 in 2007), occupy a fraction of the print acreage devoted to the tiny minority of veiled women.”

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star’s editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday.

hsiddiqui@thestar.ca

Originally Published at The Star.Com on Thu Apr 08 2010.

Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prison

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prisonCommittee of Human Rights Reporters – At 33 detainees, the women’s ward at Evin prison has reached the largest number of prisoners in the past 3 years. Some of the prisoners are suffering with psychological and physical maladies while many have been deprived of their right to furlough.The new round of summons and arrests of political and civil female activists continues. In the past 2 months the number of female political prisoners has reached 33 as activists who had been detained during the events that took place after the contested presidential elections, have been summoned to serve their prison sentences. According to the detainees in the past years, the average number of prisoners in the women’s ward has been 28 and has never increased until now. In addition there is news that at least 10 more women will be transferred to this ward in the near future.Below is a list of the 33 female detainees who are being held in the women’s ward at Evin prison.

1) Basma Al Jabouri – Iraqi citizen accused of spying, 5-year prison sentence, has served one year.

2) Bahareh Hedyayat – Student and women’s rights activist, member of the student organization Advar-e TahkimeVehdat, 10-year prison sentence, has served about 3 years.

3) BehnazZaker – Arrested at airport about 4 months ago before a scheduled flight to Sweden and kept in prison in undetermined circumstance.

4) RaheleZokayi – Among the lesser-known prisoners, one-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime.”

5) Reyhaneh Haj EbrahimDagagh – Among the detainees of the Ashura mass protests in 2009, 15-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO, has served 3 years with no furlough.

6) JilaBaniyaghoub–Journalist and women’s rights activist, who has been behind bars for over a month. She was sentenced to one year in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the leadership.” Her husband BahmanAhmadiAmoui is also a journalist who is behind bars in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. He received a 5-year prison sentence of which he has endured 3.5 years.

7) JilaKaramzadehMakundi – Political prisoner, poet and member of the Mourning Mothers of Laleh Park, 2-year prison sentence, has served about 11 months.

8) ShabnamMadadzadeh – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO and handed 5-year prison sentence. Arrested in February 2009 and has spent 3.5 years behind bars without the right to furlough.

9) Shiva NazarAhari – Human rights activist who was handed a 4-year prison sentence by the court. She was transferred to prison about a month ago. Previously, she spent over 100 days in solitary confinement and 9 months in women’s Ward 209 (Intelligence Ministry’s Ward), and 3 months in the women’s general ward of Evin prison.

10) SedighehMoradi – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO, handed 10-year prison sentence of which she has served one year.

11) SoghraGholamnezad – Political prisoner who was transferred to the women’s ward at Evin about 3 months ago. She is serving a 2-year prison sentence handed by the Revolutionary Court on charges of affiliation with MKO.

12) FaezehHashemi – Political prisoner who was transferred to Evin 2 weeks ago to serve 6-month prison sentence.

13) FaribahKamalabadi – Baha’i prisoner who was an administrator at “Yaran-e Iran”, a Baha’i organization. She has been kept behind bars since her arrest in 2006. She was handed a 20-year prison sentence of which she has served 5 years without her right to furlough.

14) FaranHesami – Baha’i citizen with 5-year prison sentence. This mother of a 3-year old toddler was transferred behind bars about 3 months ago. Hesami was arrested when she went to Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit to obtain a power of attorney for her incarcerated husband. Her husband Kamran Rahimian is an educator at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (Baha’i Online University), serving a 4-year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr prison, on charges of “membership in the Baha’i community,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”

15) KobraBanazadehAmirkhizi – political prisoner handed 5-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has served 4 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

16) KefayatMalekMohammadi – 60-year-old citizen arrested in 2009 during Ashura mass protests, charged with MKO affiliation, 15-year prison sentence of which she has served 3 years behind bars.

17) LadanMostofiMaab – Political prisoner with 2.5-year prison sentence, has served 2 years and 3 months without any furlough.

18) LevaKhanjani – Baha’i citizen banned from continuing her education, appeared at Tehran’s Evin Prison on Saturday, August 25, 2012 to begin serving her 2-year prison term.

19) MahboubehKarami – Political, women and human rights activist sentenced to 3 years in prison by branch 54 of the Revolutionary Appellate Court on February 2, 2011. She was charged with membership in a human rights organization, “propaganda against the regime,” and “gathering and collusion with intent to harm national security.” She has spent one and a half years in prison.

20) Maryam AkbariMonfared – Political prisoner with 15-year sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has been in prison since her arrest 3 years ago without her right to furlough.

21) Maryam Jalili – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

22) MotaharehBahrami – Detained in 2009 during Ashura protests. She was handed a 10-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has spent about a year behind bars with no furlough.

23) MitraZahmati – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

24) ManijehNajm Iraqi – Women’s rights activist, member of Iranian Author’s Club, worked as interpreter and author. Revolutionary Court handed a one-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. She was charged with membership in Iranian Author’s Club and publishing their work. The allegations made against her were based on taking part in events for Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Ja’farPouvandeh, AhmadShamlou.

25) ManijehNaserAllahi – Handed 3.5-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’’i faith. She has spent 2.5 years behind bars with only 3 days on furlough.

26) MahsaAmirabadi – Handed a 2-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. Her husband MasoudBastani is a journalist also behind bars serving a 6-year prison sentence in Rajai Shahr prison. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion to disrupt national security.”

27) MahvashShariyati – Behind bars since 2008, serving 20-year prison term on charges of following the Baha’i faith and membership on board of Yarane Iran, which is a Baha’i organization.

28) NazaninDeyhimi – Transferred to prison about 2 weeks ago to serve 4-month sentence stemming from charge of taking part in post-election protests.

29) NegarHaeri – Political prisoner who was detained about 3 months ago and has been held without being charged. Her father MashaalaHaeri is serving a 15-year prison sentence behind bars in Raja’i Shahr prison on charges of affiliation with MKO.

30) Nasrin Sotoudeh – Lawyer and human rights activist serving 6-year prison sentence. She is also barred from practicing law for 10 years. She was charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in a human rights organization.” She has spent 2 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

31) NasimSoltanBaygi – Journalist and student activist handed 3-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’i faith. She has spent 1.5 years of her sentence behind bars.

32) NoushinKhadem – A lecturer at the Baha’i Science Institution, handed a 4-year prison sentence for being a follower of the Baha’i faith. She began serving her sentence on September 16, 2012.

33) HaniyehSanehFarshi – Political prisoner and blogger, 7-year prison sentence on charges of blasphemy, propaganda against the regime, acting against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities. She has served 2.5 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

According to information obtained by Committee of Human Rights Reporters, in the next few days another 10 women will be transferred to Evin prison. With the new wave of prisoners about to enter the facility and the many unknown prisoners who have not been listed in the news, it is predicted that the women’s ward in Evin prison will be over capacity. With the arrival of cold winter months and the lack of adequate medical care for political prisoners there is serious concern about the deficient conditions that the prisoners will have to endure.

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