‘An honest Pakistan is a better Pakistan’: the ‘unsilencing’ idea and the ongoing intellecticide

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

I wrote this piece last week for EPW – Economic and Political Weekly, India; reproduced below with photos and additional links.

“Unsilencing Pakistan” was an idea first articulated in 2011. It has been revived following the recent murder of Sabeen Mahmud, who had attempted to create a space where Pakistanis could discuss contentious issues–like the human rights violations in Balochistan–without fear. Can Pakistan’s intellectuals and human rights activists survive the “intellecticide” being perpetrated?

By Beena Sarwar

When the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) announced that it was organising a seminar titled “Un-Silencing Balochistan” on 9 April 2015, it reminded me of the “Unsilencing Pakistan” initiative of the summer of 2011. Continue reading

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Human rights: Pakistan’s Ahmadis Faced with Death or Exile

Saad-Farooq

Saad Farooq, 26, shot dead in Karachi. “In Karachi, people are being killed every day. Doctors, professors, not just Ahmadis but also Shias and others,” says his father Farooq Kahloun, who still has four bullets in his body.

By Beena Sarwar

BOSTON, Oct 20 2014 (IPS) – Two years ago, gunmen shot dead Farooq Kahloun’s newly married son Saad Farooq, 26, in an attack that severely injured Kahloun, his younger son Ummad, and Saad’s father-in-law, Choudhry Nusrat.

Saad died on the spot. In Pakistan after travelling from his home in New York for the wedding, Nusrat died in hospital later. Four bullets remain in Kahloun’s chest and arm. A bullet lodged behind the right eye of Ummad, a student in the UK, was surgically removed months later (See his interview with BBC, while the bullet was still inside).

As an Ahmadi leader in his locality, Kahloun knew he was a target for hired assassins in the bustling but lawless metropolis of Karachi. General insecurity in Pakistan is multiplied manifold if you are, like Kahloun, an Ahmadi – a sect of Islam that many orthodox Muslims abhor as heretic.

Continue reading

Pakistan’s Nobel Laureates – united by the tragedy of militancy

My article for Scroll.in today about how “Takfiri” thinking drove physicist Abdus Salam out of the country, and keeps Malala Yusufzai away from her home. 

Malala: "I decided that I would speak up. Through my story I want to tell other children all around the world they should stand up for their rights"

Malala: “I decided that I would speak up. Through my story I want to tell other children all around the world they should stand up for their rights”

There is no escaping the irony that the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 has gone jointly to two child rights advocates from Pakistan and India – 17-year old Malala Yousafzai and 60-year old Kailash Satyarthi — while the armies of their countries trade bullets and kill innocents across the Line of Control in Kashmir. Continue reading

‘A prayer… of sorts’ – my Viewpoint article

Excerpt from ‘A prayer… of sorts’, my article in Viewpoint Online’s special issue on the Ahmadi massacre in Lahore:

…. Where do these people get the guts to operate so brazenly?

Perhaps because the administration turns a blind eye to their displaying banners like the one photographed recently on Mall Road outside Lahore High Court that reads: ‘Yahudi, Isai, Mirzai Islam ke dushman haiN’ (Jews, Christians, Ahmedis, are enemies of Islam).

Then there are the freebee giveaways by banned outfits like Harkatul Ansar – like this clock, photographed at a ‘parchoon’ shop in Karachi’s Delhi Colony. The hands are a Kalshnikov, four of the five pillars of Islam, Namaz, Zakat, Haj and Roza (prayer, charity, pilgrimage and fasting) mark the quarter hour points. The fifth pillar, Tauheed (belief in the singularity of the Almighty), has been replaced by Jehad (holy war), the word placed right in the centre. Jehad is not one of Islam’s five pillars. But of course, no one is going to proceed against them for misrepresenting, some would say defiling, the religion.

Those who raise a voice against these issues find themselves threatened with legal action or worse. A case in point is Malik Rashid’s article ‘Faithful Killers, Fatal Worship’ (Ibrahim Sajid Malick’s blog) about the massacre of Ahmedis in Lahore on May 28. In the comments section, a reader threatened legal action against Malik Rashid for referring to ‘Ahmedi mosques’. The fellow even provided his name, address and phone number (the number proved erroneous when a doctor in the US attempted to call it). [The website was later hacked, but restored] READ MORE

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