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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‘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
LIKE our Facebook Page: facebook.com/pages/Secular-Pakistan/362810103802175
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Blasphemy: Another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform – Don’t Support It This Friday

Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday

‘Honour Killings’
Description

Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?

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Blasphemy
Description

Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?

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Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

From
Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/RepealBlasphemyLaws

Web Page
https://lifethelove.wordpress.com/
Email
uddari@live.ca
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Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?

.

Blasphemy
Description

Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?

.

Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

From
Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/RepealBlasphemyLaws

Web Page
https://lifethelove.wordpress.com/
Email
uddari@live.ca
.

Petition to Stop Aggrandizing Ku Klux Klan in Selma City Alabama

Petitioning Selma City Council
Selma City Council: No More Monuments to KKK Hate!

Sign this Petition

by Malika Fortier with GrassrootsDemocracy.net
Signed
with 315,949 supporters
184,051 NEEDED

People know Selma, Alabama as a city where Dr. King fought for civil rights. Selma was the launching point for pivotal protests that hurtled the voting rights movement into the national spotlight. It is also a city of tragedy: thousands of students, religious leaders, and families fighting for civil rights in Selma were arrested, injured, or brutally killed.

I grew up in Selma. Now, as a community organizer, I think often about the sacrifices of the people who lived here before me. I was outraged and ashamed to learn that Selma’s city council is sitting idly by as a local neo-Confederate group expands a public monument to a founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Monuments celebrating violent racism and intolerance have no place in this country, let alone in a city like Selma, where the families of those attacked by the Klan still live.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate military leader, a founding member of the KKK, and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. He wasn’t even from Selma — why should Selma be honoring his shameful legacy of racial segregation and terrorism?

If Selma wants be viewed by the rest of the country as forward-thinking, we cannot give in to those who pine for the “good ole days” of the 1860s. This monument has blighted our town for far too long. Please join me in calling on the Selma city council to remove the monument celebrating Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Petition Letter

Dear Selma City Council,

I am writing to strongly urge you to stop the current plans to expand a monument celebrating Nathan Bedford Forrest.

People know Selma, Alabama as the city where Dr. King fought for civil rights. Selma was the launching point for historical protests that hurtled the civil rights movement into the national spotlight. It is also a city of tragedy: thousands of students, religious leaders, and families fighting for civil rights in Selma were arrested, injured, or brutally killed.

It was shocking to learn that Selma would ever choose to celebrate the legacy of a Ku Klux Klan founder and Grand Wizard by allowing a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest to stand on city property. For the council to allow this monument to be expanded would simply be beyond the pale.

If Selma wants be viewed by the rest of the country as forward-thinking, we cannot give in to those who pine for the “good ole days” of the 1860s. The Selma city council has no business allowing the the city’s history and the memory of those who fought for civil rights to be smeared in this way. I demand that you stop the expansion of the Nathan Bedford Forrest monument and remove it from public property.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Sign this Petition
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‘Countering intolerance’ by Shandana Khan Mohmand

From Dawn.com

A FEW years before the Nazi government arrested him in 1937 and sent him to a concentration camp, Martin Niemoller, a German theologian, spoke the powerful words that have come to epitomise the guilt of the bystander who watches in silence as those around suffer.

He lamented how he had not spoken up as they came first for the communists, then the unionists, and then the Jews. Finally when they came for him, “there was no one left to speak out”.

Pakistan has arrived at a point where ‘they’ have come for the Ahmedis, the Christians, the Hindus, and the Shias. It has come to a point where we need to speak out because at some point they will come for even those that are not part of a minority community.

They will come for you either because you are a Barelvi, a Deobandi, a woman, an intellectual, a liberal, the wrong ethnic group, or simply someone who does not agree with the worldview of those who are armed and have no compulsions against killing a fellow human being. But what is the most effective way to speak out? What will make a difference?

The simple answer, of course, is that we need to learn to be more accepting and tolerant of each other. But while noble, this is a generally useless suggestion because there is a large difference between being intolerant and actually pulling people off a bus, identifying them as Shias and then murdering them for that simple fact.

What takes a person from general intolerance towards others to actually killing people for their belief? I do not have an answer to that, but I do know a few things that contribute.

It contributes when murderers like the Taliban are allowed to get away with it. Not bringing perpetrators publicly to justice in courts that speak out clearly in favour of protecting every single citizen — regardless of caste, creed and religion — contributes
to making the next incident possible.

It contributes that in attack after attack, a few of which have been on their own bases, we do not see the police or the army going after the outfits that sponsor these.

It also contributes that in its official documents the state continues to divide us all into religious categories. What, and whose, purpose does this serve?

It contributes when public figures do not speak out loudly and regularly in favour of minorities and against the violent crimes that they suffer.

It contributes that electronic media is not awash with dramas, public service messages and talk shows promoting an understanding of minority cultures and beliefs, the value and beauty of diversity, and the idea that there should be no ‘us’ and ‘them’ within Pakistan.

It certainly contributes that the career of television anchors does not suffer terribly when they publicly convert members of minority communities to Islam on their shows. And despite popular belief, it is not a lack of education that contributes to this, but rather, the content of our educational curricula that appears to be responsible.

I discovered in my research in rural Pakistan that the person in the village with active membership of a sectarian organisation was never the uneducated farm labourer, but rather the schoolteacher.

The only person that I met who told me he had participated in a religious protest was a man with an FA degree who had travelled to Lahore to protest against the Danish cartoons. As we strive to educate more and more of our population without a review of what we are teaching them, where can we expect to head?

So, how do we speak out? Maybe the answer lies in becoming intolerant as well. We need to become vocally intolerant of religious groups that seek to organise people on the basis of differences and preach violence against others.

We need to become intolerant of the army’s strategic games, and of the fact that deals are struck with those that kill openly and thump their chests publicly to take responsibility for it.

We need to be intolerant of political parties that cosy up to the army and tow its line of negotiating with murderers. We should be intolerant of a state that requires us to reveal our religion in official documents.

We need to be intolerant of a system that is seen to go into hyper-drive to weaken an elected government, but that allows known religious fanatics to walk free for lack of strong evidence.

How do you express such intolerance? By getting our politics right. Withdraw support for the judiciary when it lets a terrorist go. Push the political party you support to have a clear stance against those that kill minorities, and do not vote for those that
make excuses for terrorist outfits.

Change the channel when talk show hosts insist that the real problem is another country, politicians or corruption, all the while defending those that kill the name of religion.

Write to channels to demand that there be more programmes on issues that affect minorities. Use social networking sites, newspapers and public protests to reduce divisions within Pakistan. Refuse to identify yourself with a religion or sect when asked to do so.

And on a personal level, stop trying to match your children with a spouse of the same sect, biradari, or class. Embrace diversity and the possibility that that will only make you less insulated and less inbred.

Do this before they come for you.
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The writer is a researcher of political economy.

From
Dawn.com

Pointed to by Hoori Noorani

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‘Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab’ a BBC Radio 4 Presentation

DURATION: 1 HOUR

On 4th January 2011, self-made millionaire businessman and governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in the car park of a popular Islamabad market. He had been leading a campaign to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, after an illiterate 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, from a village in his province had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Within hours of his death, a Facebook fan page for the assassin Mumtaz Qadri had over 2000 members, before site administrators shut it down. When Qadri was transferred to jail, he was garlanded with roses by a crowd of lawyers offering to take on his case for free. President Asif Ali Zardari, an old friend of Taseer’s, didn’t go to the funeral for fear of inflaming public opinion. Leaders of state-funded mosques refused to say funeral prayers for the slain governor. The Interior Minister even gave an impromptu press conference announcing that he too would kill any blasphemer “with his own hands”.

Using his extensive contacts in Pakistan, presenter Owen Bennett-Jones has interviewed Taseer’s family and friends and the family of the assassin. He has also secured access to court documents including the killer’s confession.

The programme includes both interviews and dramatic reconstructions.

Presented by Owen Bennett-Jones
Sound Design Steve Bond
Executive Producer Jeremy Skeet
Director John Dryden

A Goldhawk Production for BBC Radio 4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mhn54
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