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

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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‘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.

‘Libya: The Questions We Should Be Asking’ by Barry Lando

This article provides some context to the violence now erupting against USA in the Muslim world, where the actual film on YouTube is an opportunity for the Extreme Right to drum up mass hysteria.
Though US-NATO alliance must be confronted, it cannot bring much improvement in the lives of people if it is done on the basis of ‘avenging Islam’, that it is now being done.
We cannot support the Extreme Right, neither can we support the aggressive colonization of US-NATO alliance in the region. We must expose both for their profiteering, and their violent and abusive politics.

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September 15, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – – Apart from Mitt Romney’s ridiculous slur against President Obama after the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Americans should focus on the state of affairs suggested by the following questions: When was the last time a Chinese diplomat was killed or even roughed up by an angry mob? When did you last hear about a Chinese embassy being burned down or pillaged?

From Morocco and Tunisia to Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, anti-American crowds have taken to the streets. The outpouring of hatred is symptomatic of the fact that across much of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, American policy is in tatters—probably more than ever before. The region is strewn with the wreckage of failed U.S. ambitions and disastrous American plans.

Incredibly, even as the U.S. surveys the shambles that Libya has become, there are still American officials pushing for the United States to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war. (In fact, for months now, the U.S. and some of its Arab allies have been clandestinely doing just that.) Even the prime minister of Israel, supposedly America’s most valuable ally in the region, makes political points by sticking his finger in President Obama’s eye.

We’ve heard for years that America is obsessed with this part of the world because its trade routes and resources are critical to U.S. interests. That may once have been true, but as things stand now, those trade routes and resources are more crucial to China than to America. China gets a greater percentage of its oil through the vital Strait of Hormuz—which the U.S. spends billions of dollars to patrol—than does the United States.

And although the U.S. has been lavishing hundreds of billions of dollars on military bases, the Chinese have been spending their considerable financial resources across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, buying up mineral deposits, land, forests and petroleum, inking construction contracts for huge infrastructure projects as well as opening up vast new markets.

Where are the Chinese troops to protect all this? Where are the sprawling Chinese naval and air bases, their drones, killer teams and special forces? Not needed, thanks. The U.S. is handling security.

This makes for some sad ironies. For instance, the fact that Stevens spent months aiding the Libyan rebels during their uprising against Moammar Gadhafi while China was one of the last major allies to continue supporting the dictator. Yet the Chinese are back in Libya wheeling and dealing for construction contracts and oil.

Meanwhile, next door in Egypt, newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, whose country continues to receive more than $1 billion in aid from the United States, judged he had more to gain by joining in attacks against the U.S. than by cooling popular passions. And where was his first trip abroad after winning election? To China.

Yet China would seem a very appropriate target for Muslim anger. The U.S. may have invaded Muslim countries, but for decades China has been brutally persecuting and repressing millions of its own Muslim minorities, such as the Uighars in northwest China.

But how many furious crowds have taken to the streets in Muslim lands to protest the plight of the Uighars? How many people have even heard of them? How many of the Muslim leaders who are lambasting the United States because of an off-the-wall film that the U.S. government had absolutely nothing to do with have ever uttered a single word of protest against China in public?

That’s not to say the Chinese are beloved in the region. There have been violent, sometimes bloody, protests against their labor and trade practices but nothing that compares in scale and depth to the hatred and suspicion of the United States throughout the region.

The current outcry over a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad is just the tip of an emotional iceberg. Underneath it all are more than half a century of Western and American interventions in the region, as well as the U.S.’ continued support of Israel.

While the U.S. has spent huge sums trying to overthrow regimes, punish perceived enemies, prevent nuclear proliferation (except in Israel) and shape the impacts of the new political dynamics that are roiling the area, the Chinese have had their eyes fixed on one set of objectives only: getting hold of vital natural resources to fuel their ravenous economy and finding new markets for their products and mammoth projects for their construction companies.

Why can’t the U.S. do the same? That’s the kind of basic question Americans should ask in the wake of the killing of a U.S. ambassador, as they go about electing a new president. But don’t count on it.

This article was originally posted at TruthDig

From
Information Clearinghouse
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Make UN Recognize ‘The International Day Against State Religion’ – Sign This Petition

This petition, asking United Nations to recognize a day in the year as The International Day Against State Religion, will help us around the world to root out religious sentiment, and concepts such as blasphemy, from legal and social systems. It will help us move away from incidents like the sectarian murders of 19 Shia Muslims, and the blasphemy arrest of minor Rimsha Masih.

The initiative has been taken by Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, and we need to take it forward by siging this petition, sharing the links, and inviting our friends and colleagues to do the same.

Sign the Petition

Petition for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

To,
The Secretary-General,
United Nations,
UN Headquarters,
New York.

Please take active, effective and meaningful steps for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

The life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as good as hell thanks to the “State Religion” of Pakistan. Thus, the need of the time is to declare that the “State Religion” is hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, are on the record: religion has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thus, he spoke on August 11, 1947 in his 1st Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan against the “State Religion”.

None of the members of the Parliament of Pakistan has cared to pay respect to the eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan since August 11, 1947. The proof is the “State Religion” in the Constitution of Pakistan.

None of the Parliamentarians of Pakistan is ready and willing to heed the ideas of the Founder of Pakistan on the relation of Religion and State.

Under these facts and circumstances, it may be the humane duty of United Nations to recognize and celebrate the 11th day of August, 1947 as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION in the name of the Universal Human Rights in solidarity with non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

Let the United Nations come for the help of the victims of the “State Religion” in Pakistan as well as around the globe. And, let the 11th day of August, 1947 be recognized as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.

Sign the Petion
http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion-5

Sincerely,
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Contact Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Blog: http://saynotothestatereligion.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gmlakho

Official Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Day-Against-State-Religion/106460822743085

Also, if you haven’t yet,
Please sign the petition to help release Rimsha Masih
http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/freerimshamasih

A poem for the 19 murdered Shia Muslims, and the arrest of Rimsha Masih
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique

From Uddari Weblog
Make UN Recognize 'The International Day Against State Religion' – Sign This Petition.

Support Free Internet – Sign This Petition

Stop the Internet Blacklist!

The US Congress is considering a bill ‘Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act’ (COICA) that can seriously injure the freedom of the internet. View it here:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-3804

Sign This Petition Protect Our Freedoms

More about it:

‘COICA creates two blacklists of Internet domain names. Courts could add sites to the first list; the Attorney General would have control over the second. Internet service providers and others (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the first list. They would also receive immunity (and presumably the good favor of the government) if they block domains on the second list.

‘The lists are for sites “dedicated to infringing activity,” but that’s defined very broadly — any domain name where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site” could be blocked.

‘One example of what this means in practice: sites like YouTube could be censored in the US. Copyright holders like Viacom often argue copyrighted material is central to the activity of YouTube, but under current US law, YouTube is perfectly legal as long as they take down copyrighted material when they’re informed about it — which is why Viacom lost to YouTube in court.

‘But if COICA passes, Viacom wouldn’t even need to prove YouTube is doing anything illegal to get it shut down — as long as they can persuade the courts that enough other people are using it for copyright infringement, the whole site could be censored.

‘Perhaps even more disturbing: Even if Viacom couldn’t get a court to compel censorship of a YouTube or a similar site, the DOJ could put it on the second blacklist and encourage ISPs to block it even without a court order. (ISPs have ample reason to abide the will of the powerful DOJ, even if the law doesn’t formally require them to do so.)

‘COICA’s passage would be a tremendous blow to free speech on the Internet — and likely a first step towards much broader online censorship. Please help us fight back: The first step is signing our petition. We’ll give you the tools to share it with your friends and call your Senator.’

From David Segal and Aaron Swartz
Read it here

Sign the Petition
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