We Have Your Words – 1


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
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
29 days ago
‘The only way forward…’

Anita Kanitz
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
29 days ago
‘enough is enough’

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

Babar Ayaz
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
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
29 days ago
‘It’s time to do it.’

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
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:
‘Thanks! Anwer’

Aaryan Ramzan
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
29 days ago
‘I support the idea that all citizens of Pakistan be treated equally.’

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

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

Naushervan Beg
29 days ago
‘To save my country’

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

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

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

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

Adnan Shah
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
29 days ago
‘We want diversity, we want peace for everyone regardless of any religon, faith or NO faith.’

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

Arjumand Rahim
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
29 days ago
‘I think the only way forward for Pakistan is this!’

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

Shafi Edwardian
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
29 days ago
‘Nobody’s business (religion) is my business!’

G. M. Lakho
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
29 days ago
‘This is what I believe.’

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

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

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


”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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889 killed, 2072 hurt in 61 suicide attacks this year

Monday, December 22, 2008

By Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: Suicide bombings in 2008 surpassed last year’s figures, with 61 attacks so far killing at least 889 people and injuring 2,072 others, a source in the investigation agencies disclosed.

The total number of suicide blasts in Pakistan since 2002 has risen to 140 todate while 56 bombers had struck last year. In one such attack, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose first death anniversary would be observed on December 27, was killed in Rawalpindi.

At least, for 29 times, suicide bombers struck in the NWFP, while 16 others hit their targets in the adjacent Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) during the current year. Swat topped the list of districts where 11 suicide bombers hit targets, killing 101 people and injuring 294 others.

Four suicide bombers struck in Peshawar in 2008, killing 99 and wounding 226 others. Punjab witnessed 10 suicide blasts with five in Lahore alone. Three suicide bombers hit their targets in the federal capital during the year. One of these attackers targeted the Danish embassy.

Apart from the killing of three alleged bombers in Karachi, no suicide attack took place in the entire Sindh province. A single incident was reported in Balochistan when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing a young girl student and injuring 22 persons in Quetta on September 23.

With 29 suicide attacks in 2008, the number of these incidents in the Frontier reached 57 in the last three years — 2006, 2007 and 2008. Twenty-three of these blasts ripped through different towns of the NWFP in the previous year while 29 blasts occurred in the current year.

Apart from 60 suicide bombers, who accomplished their mission, 12 were those who were caught by the security agencies before hitting their targets. They are still being interrogated in police custody. The Marriott blast, which is considered as Pakistan’s worst-ever act of terrorism, occurred during the current year.

The tragedy is being termed as 9/11 of Pakistan where around 60 people were killed and over 200 wounded on September 22. Damage to the infrastructure was horrible. President of the Awami National Party (ANP), Asfandyar Wali Khan, survived a suicide attack at his Hujra on October 2, 2008, where three of his guests and a guard were killed.

The Koocha Risaldar blast in Peshawar in December is being considered the worst terrorist attack in the provincial capital. As many as 34 people were killed and around 120 wounded in the incident. The blast triggered a fire that engulfed several buildings in the area to cause millions of rupees losses to local shopkeepers and residents.

All the tribal agencies, Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan have witnessed either one or more suicide attacks during the year 2008. The districts and towns where suicide attacks occurred during the current year include Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Bhakkar, Attock, Peshawar, Mardan, Parachinar, Swat, Darra Adamkhel, Landikotal, Bannu, Bara, Dera Ismail Khan, Dir Upper, Buner, Charsadda, Hangu and Quetta.


Women bus service launched in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: The first-ever women bus service was launched in provincial metropolis here on Tuesday. The pilot project is a joint venture in private-public partnership by transport department and women development and social welfare department.

Initially, two buses will ply between Haji Camp and Hayatabad with women conductors and ladies constables to provide security. Provincial Transport Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Minister for Social Welfare Sitara Imran inaugurated the bus service, which took a tour from Islamia College Building to NWFP Assembly.

Addressing the ceremony Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that number of vehicles would be increased keeping in view the success of the project and asked the women to make use of the service to make it a success. He said the bus service had been launched keeping in view the status of women in Pakhtun society.

Sitara Ayaz said that the bus service would be expanded to other districts after its success in the provincial capital. Peshawar Commissioner Arbab Shahrukh, District Nazim Haji Ghulam Ali and others also spoke at the occasion.

Staff report


Press freedom bodies demand Iraqi journalist’s release

Staff Report

PESHAWAR: Press freedom organisations have demanded the release of an Iraqi journalist who was detained after he hurled his shoes at US President George Bush during a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday.

Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday said they did not agree with Muntazar Al-Zaidi’s method of protest but the journalist should be released for humanitarian reasons.

Al-Zaidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadiya television, threw his shoes at the US president as a symbolic gesture of distaste for US policies towards Iraq.

Humanitarian reasons: “We obviously regret that the journalist used this method of protest against the politics of the American president, but for humanitarian reasons and to ease tension, we call for the release of Muntazar Al-Zaidi who has been held by the Iraqi authorities for two days,” the RSF said in a statement. “Given the controversy surrounding this incident, we urge the Iraqi security services to guarantee the physical well-being of this journalist, who was clearly injured during his arrest,” the statement said.

Deep anger: The IFJ said the incident “reflected deep anger at the treatment of Iraqi civilians during US occupation over the past four years of which journalists have been major victims”. The IFJ said, “It is no coincidence that the protest comes only days after the United States refused to release a detained journalist, despite an Iraqi court order that he should be set free. When the US appears to defy the rule of law in Iraq, it is no surprise that journalists will look to other ways to make their protest over injustice.” “This journalist was expressing his own deeply-felt views and we cannot condone his actions,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “But after years of intimidation, mistreatment and unsolved killings at the hands of US soldiers, it is no surprise that there is anger and resentment among journalists,” he added.

The IFJ warned the journalist might be under threat while in detention “given the record of mistreatment of journalists in custody by US forces. The IFJ is supporting its affiliate, the Iraqi Union of Journalists (IUJ), which has called for Muntazar Al-Zaidi to be released and for his safety to be guaranteed.” In Peshawar, the Khyber Union of Journalists will protest today (Thursday) outside the NWFP Assembly to press for the early release of the Iraqi journalist who stunned the world with his action on Sunday.


Self-censorship: Tribal journalists facing economic, security hazards

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: Tribal journalists are facing grave economic and security challenges because of their self-censorship for fear of direct threats from either the Taliban or the security forces, speakers at a workshop said on Wednesday.

Most Pakistani media organisations ‘are not paying for our work’, posing economic challenges for the journalists, the speakers told the workshop organised by Intermedia, a Pakistani media development organisation.

“We are not paid for the job we are doing,” Wazir Afridi, a scribe from Darra Adam Khel, told the workshop. A participant said self-censorship was widespread among tribal journalists. “It is very difficult to report events freely. We face problems from the Taliban and the security forces,” said the participant who did not wish to be named.

“There are many things which we do not report for the sake of our area and ourselves. But we are held responsible if someone reports from Peshawar or Islamabad about our areas,” he said. “We are reporting 50 percent of the events taking place in our area,” a tribal journalist from North Waziristan said. “We need to exercise self-censorship to stay alive.” A journalist from Bajaur said it was difficult to crosscheck casualty figures from independent sources. “If we report that civilians are killed by government or Taliban firing, we risk our lives,” he said.

Another journalist said the political administration was not extending any help or support to the journalists.

Many tribal journalists have been killed or forced to flee because of reporting from the Tribal Areas, Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) President Nasir Mohmand said.

TUJ General Secretary Aurangzeb Afridi said Taliban were easy to approach and gave more ‘accurate details’ of an event than security forces or the local administration. However, former TUJ president Sailab Mehsud differed with Auranzeb’s views.

The participants said foreign radio stations airing Pashtu and Urdu programmes were more popular than Pakistan’s state-run media in the Tribal Areas.

They criticised a race among Pakistani TV channels for breaking news, saying most networks ‘exaggerated’ casualty figures to catch up with rival channels if they did not initially break a news. “We get calls from Taliban and security forces as to why exaggerated figures were reported,” they added.


Woman trafficking: NGO prepares draft bill

Saturday, November 22, 2008
NGO prepares draft bill to stop victimisation

By our correspondent

PESHAWAR: A civil society organisation has prepared a bill to help save women from trafficking and discussed the proposed document with policy-makers, lawyers and members of the Non-Governmental Organisations to get their suggestions and recommendations to make it more viable.

The consultative working group meeting on woman trafficking bill was arranged by Noor Education Trust here on Friday to discuss the provisions of the bill with the participants who gave their suggestions for improvement.

After the introduction of the participants and the organisation, the participants were told that trafficking was recruitment, transfer, transport, harbouring or receipt, with or without consent, fake marriages, false adoptions and kidnappings with a view to exploit women and children in bonded and illegal labour, domestic work, begging, sex-tourism, entertainment and prostitution for the benefit of traffickers and crime-syndicates.

The discussants were told that there were no accurate statistics available, but it was estimated that in the last 30 years, trafficking in women and children in Asia for sexual exploitation alone had touched the 30 million mark.

Both civil society members and the victims of trafficking have confirmed the increasing trend of marrying off girls from NWFP to men from other provinces, the participants were informed. They were told about the findings of the study conducted by the organisation in collaboration with the district partners.

Some of the main points of the study that were highlighted include district-based responses from the civil society members, awareness about bride price, kinds of people involved in the crime, ethnic origin of the clients, identification of traffickers and transaction modes.

Other information discussed was about the use of bride price money, written or verbal Nikah, parent’s presence at Nikah, purpose of marriage, victims age at time of marriage, marriage with consent, ethnicity of trafficked girls, reasons for trafficking and current residence of the victims.

The participants suggested that the word woman should be changed or replaced with female because according to a study, mostly minor girls were trafficked, so it would not be applicable to them if the bill came into force. The discussants proposed that punishment for trafficking should be life imprisonment and the crime must be cognisable.


Govt approaches elders for release of Canadian woman

PESHAWAR: The political administration in Bannu Frontier Region is negotiating with elders of the Janikhel tribe for the release of a Canadian woman abducted along with three Pakistani guides on Tuesday, officials said.

Khadija Abdul Qahaar was reported missing in the region near North Waziristan on Tuesday. She introduced herself as a free-lance journalist, but is not registered with National Union of Canadian Journalists.

She converted to Islam after the 9/11 attacks on the United States and calls herself ‘a supporter of Taliban’ on her website where she posted her comments and reports about the Tribal Areas.

Staff report


Missing persons’ relatives flay government’s ‘inactivity’

By Akhtar Amin

PESHAWAR: Families of missing persons have shown deep concern over ‘inactivity’ of the government for recovery of their near and dear ones from, what they said, lock-ups of the secret agencies.

“We had pinned great hopes on the new democratic government for safe recovery of our near and dear ones from illegal custody of secret agencies. Eight months have passed but the government did nothing in this regard and became silent over the issue,” families of missing persons told Daily Times on Saturday.

Relatives of missing persons questioned that what role the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership played in this regard after coming into power. They said that PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar had moved the Supreme Court for safe recovery of missing persons in General (r) Musharraf’s rule and had strongly criticised the interior ministry for its failure to locate the missing persons, but today when his own party was ruling the country, he had adopted silence over the issue.

Shamsun Nisa, 60, remembers her only son Attiqur Rehman, who she (allegedly) said was picked up by the intelligence agencies from his hometown Abbottabad on the day he was to get married in June 2004.

The aged woman told Daily Times that she believed that the new government would get her son released from the lock-up of secret agencies. She said that eight months have passed but the democratic government showed no interest in release of missing persons from secret agencies’ custody.

Two women Gulmina and Rahmat Bibi of Peshawar, whose habeas corpus petition was disposed of by the Peshawar High Court after the police and intelligence agencies showed ignorance about whereabouts of their sons Mohammad Sharif and Raj Wali missing for the last four months, told Daily Times that their sons were neither Taliban nor terrorists but the intelligence agencies picked them up on suspicion of terrorism and they were missing to date.

On September 20, 2007, intelligence agencies allegedly raided the office of former general secretary of Peshawar High Court Bar Association (PHCBA) Ishtiaq Ibrahim and picked up his clients Dalil, son of Said Ghareeb, and Agha Gul, son of Khiali, residents of Afghanistan and presently living in Lahore, who had come to the office for consulting the lawyer in their case.

Aslam Khan, a family member of these missing persons, told Daily Times that they had tried time and again to know their whereabouts but to no avail.

Anchorperson of ‘Defence of Human Rights’ and spokesperson of families of missing persons, Amina Janjua, whose husband Masood Janjua has been missing since May 2005, also has grave concern over disappearance of her husband and other missing persons who have disappeared since years.


Women’s swimming dropped from NWFP competitions


PESHAWAR: The women’s swimming event has been dropped from the inter-provincial games scheduled to begin here from 9th of the current month.

Other competitions in the four-day event include athletics, swimming, badminton, squash, volley-ball, judo, baseball, taekwondo, karate, football, kabadi, boxing, weight-lifting, wrestling, hockey and cycling.

Arrangements and venues for the games were finalised during a meeting held here on Saturday.

Provincial Minister for Sports Syed Aqil Shah, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Secretary Sports Sahibzada Fazal Amin and other officials attended the meeting.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Sports Minister Syed Aqil Shah said women’s swimming competitions were not being held for some “inevitable” reasons.

Daud Khattak