More on women – and Rahman Baba

Sangota Girls Public School, Swat, destroyed by militants. Photo by Kamran Arif

Sangota Girls Public School, Swat, destroyed by militants. Photo by Kamran Arif

Forgot to include the following in my posting focusing on women

AMMU JOSEPH’s article ‘Our freedom is at stake’ is linked to the issues Kalpana Sharma identified in her article on the attacks women in India are facing, which as I wrote, looks like an Indian version of the Vice & Virtue dept of the Taliban that we are facing here in Pakistan. Ammu’s Bangalore Mirror article of Feb 12 (but still very relevant) at

And now to RAHMAN BABA: As the political confrontation heats up in Pakistan ahead of the lawyers’ long march, joined by the Sharifs who were disqualified from politics recently, before all this reaches a stage where it overtakes all other discourse (which it already seems to have, to an extent), wanted to post a few items related to the disturbing attack on Rahman Baba’s shrine near Peshawar on March 5. The attack caused widespread outrage and practically every paper took it up. The incident took place just two days after the March 3 attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore that led to a knee-jerk reaction among many Pakistanis blaming India for the attack.

Countering the culture of blame-counter blame, Siddharth Varadarajan, Associate Editor The Hindu, wrote on March 4 that finding ways to “encourage Pakistani cooperation and, more generally, to stabilise that country, are the most important challenges facing Indian diplomacy”. See his article ‘Lahore attack shows urgency of joint action on terror’ – Forget the conspiracies, the threat to Pakistan and India is the same –

I thought he was spot on, on the whole and had a comment to add to his statement that “Cricket is the most visible icon of secular Pakistan, and perhaps the only competitor militant Islam faces in its struggle to tame the wayward Pakistani mind.”

I wrote: “There is another, even more deep-rooted competitor militant Islam faces – the widespread adherence to Sufi Islam and values, superstition, taweez dhaga (tying threads, getting amulets) etc. I fear (hope hope hope I am wrong) a major attack on any urs (birthday celebrations of Sufi saints) taking place at any of the major shrines any time soon…”

The following day, militants bombed the shrine of the 17th century Sufi poet Rahman Baba. An AP report in the Independent commented that the attack highlighted “the gulf between hard-line Muslims and many in the region who follow a traditional, mystical brand of Islam… A professor at Peshawar University told a local TV station that in many Pashtun homes, Baba’s poems are kept alongside the Islamic holy book, the Quran.”

The caretaker of the shrine said he had got a letter three days before the attack warning against the perpetration of this “shrine culture” and objecting to the fact that women were coming to pray at the shrine. Militants used remote control bombs that destroyed the outer wall of the Mausoleum and partially damaged the building one month ahead of Baba’s urs, scheduled for April 5.

According to Pashtun Post <>, Yousaf Ali Dilsoz, President of Rahman Baba Adabi Jirga says that Rahman Baba is the icon of Pashtuns spirituality and their love for peace and tolerance. “Saidu Baba, a revered saint from Swat valley, is known to have said that if the Pashtuns were ever asked to pray on a book other than the Koran, they would undoubtedly go for Rahman Baba’s work.”

Pashtun Post contains translations of some of Baba’s verses –

Some excerpts:

Sow flowers so your surroundings become a garden
Don’t sow thorns; for they will prick your feet

If you shoot arrows at others,
Know that the same arrow will come back to hit you.

Humans are all one body,
Whoever tortures another, wounds himself.


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