In Praise of Pakistan’s Aurat March 2019

Secular Pakistan congratulates the local, provincial and national organizers of Aurat March across the country, for showing us the strength of feminist movements in Pakistan by creating a diverse platform that was able to accommodate all shades of political and personal views held by organizations and individuals.

We rejoice to witness that some women were courageous enough to go against ‘convention’ by speaking the truth of women’s daily lives in an upfront and direct manner knowing that it’ll offend the very core of patriarchal control.

lo beth gaye saheeh se: here i’m sitting proper‘ with the image of an open-legged woman is a great one-line critique on the vulgar lived reality of women where they are constantly harassed and hounded by men and other adults to sit, stand, talk, smile, eat in ways to make themselves small, silent, submissive and insignificant. This routine, of course, creates the conditions where a human being is effectively controlled by patriarchal systems at the physical, emotional and sexual levels. Our compliments to the woman who came up with this brief yet impactful critique.

It is wonderful that women felt so self-empowered in their togetherness that they were chanting ‘main awara hoon: i am a vagabond‘, to declare themselves to be someone who defies the status quo created and perpetuated by patriarchy. ‘Tum khana garm karo main bistar garm karti hoon: you heat up the food i’ll heat up the bed‘ speaks very well to the sexual and personal exploitation of women within marriage. Some additional good ones are available for viewing at the link below.
thequint.com/neon/social-buzz/aurat-march-2019-pakistan

Secular Pakistan, as a progressive and equality-seeking current, offers unconditional support to women who brought out the reality of women’s lives in a manner as to disturb the status quo and challenge its oppressive and exploitative conventions, cultures and ensuing consciousnesses. We acknowledge that this action by some women may create difficult situations for them, and we urge progressive organizations and individuals to assure that the ‘targeted’ women are supported and protected online and offline.

Fauzia Rafique
March 14, 2019

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VOTE & VOTE Pakistan! General Election 2018

Photo: Reuters

This election day, we hope for a Peoples’ verdict on Pakistan’s current political situation. A verdict on the system as represented at this time by the army, judiciary, bureaucracy, political parties and the politicians of Pakistan.

We hope to receive this verdict today even when the establishment has and is trying to quell that hope by rigging and trying to influence the outcome of the election. Many candidates of one party have been prevented from participating through unjust legal means and some of their leaders are in jail, workers and candidates of non-religious parties have been killed, harassed and threatened, media has been manipulated, and, some parties are taking unfair advantage of people who are struggling with poverty by offering to buy their votes.

Our hope is alive because People of Pakistan whenever given the chance to use their vote have sided more with those promising to fight for their right to have basic necessities, pleasures and dignities of life than those who support the repressive, biased and unfair interests of the establishment and its agencies, parties and politicians.

Corruption may be a big issue, but it’s NOT the main issue facing Pakistan at this time even when the establishment and their supporters want us to believe that it is. The main issues are of poverty, unequal access to basic services and protections, unequal distribution of wealth and resources, inequalities based on gender, sexual orientation, faith and ability.

Based on this understanding, these are our recommendations.

Vote for BULB – Awami Workers Party (AWP) in all the 22 constituencies for being the only party in this election with a program promising to protect the rights of common people.

Vote for LOUDSPEAKER – Jibran Nasir (Independent) in the one constituency he is contesting for standing on a ‘people-loving’ program, and for showing the strength to not succumb to intimidation and pressures.

Vote for LANTERN – Awami National party (ANP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for giving a secular program, and sustaining violent repression from both the Agencies and the Extremists.

Other than that:

Vote for LION – Pakistan Muslim League (N) throughout the province of Punjab.

Vote for ARROW – Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wherever you prefer.

All Power To the Voter.
Down with the Establishment, its agencies and organizations.
Yes to Peace and Fairness.
(‘Pakistan is holding its 11th general election since 1970 today. Voting has begun at 85,000 polling stations. About 4,00,000 police officers and 371,388 army personnel have been deployed at the booths as a precautionary security measure.’ Indian Express)

Fauzia Rafique
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‘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.

Contact Fayyaz Baqir
fbaqir@gmail.com

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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.

Please take a few moments to ask more friends to sign the petition
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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