Who said moderate Muslims are silent? Pakistanis plan rallies to #ReclaimYourMosque

Irfan 'Khudi' Ali: a legacy of love and activism

Irfan ‘Khudi’ Ali: a legacy of love and activism

A series of protests over the next few days will demand the arrest of the head cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and condemn the Takfiri thinking that has killed innocents in Paris, Peshawar and beyond. My article in Scroll.in, slightly updated below:

By Beena Sarwar

January 10 marks the second death anniversary of the smiling human rights activist Irfan “Khudi” Ali.

The recently married 33-year old was eating dinner at home in Quetta on that day in 2013 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a snooker club, killing 11. Ali rushed to help the injured and died when a second, more powerful bomb went off nearby minutes later, killing at least 86.

Both blasts targeted the Hazara Shia community of which Ali was a prominent member. He had in fact moved to Islamabad two years earlier due to threats, and was visiting his hometown when he died.

Commemorating his death and celebrating his life, his friends join others at vigils and demonstrations around Pakistan and the world marking other recent, shattering tragedies – the attack on the army public school in Peshawar on December 16 that claimed the lives of 148 innocent souls, most of them children, and the January 7 attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris that killed 12 people, including senior journalists and cartoonists. Continue reading

Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated)

Marvi Sirmed raises some critical questions about the complex case of Rinkle Kumari, with a timeline of the case, on her blog Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated).

Projecting Quaid-e-Azam as ‘secular’ is treason?

The #fakenationalists have been targeting progressive Pakistanis for some time, aided by the #DirtyTricksBrigade, but their desperation has intensified of late. Is it a coincidence that a treason case has been filed against those identified in this defamatory poster, along with others? The poster, uploaded on facebook on March 13, 2012 by an APML supporter, features (left to right) Nusrat Javeed, Najam Sethi, Beena Sarwar, Marvi Sirmed, Imtiaz Alam. The text identifies us as “sellouts for religion and country” set on an “anti-Pakistan agenda” along with the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) (that most of us are not part of). It ends: “Come join the patriotic forces to unveil these traitors of Pakistan who hide behind the veil of journalism”.

UPDATE: May 8, 2014- The Supreme Court of Pakistan admitted Zaid Hamid’s petition filed two years ago, seeking a treason trial against Asma Jahangir and several journalists for allegedly undermining the Two Nation Theory and glory of Islam. Coming just days after the attack on Hamid Mir  (one of the ‘treason’ case respondents) and subsequently Geo TV, is this development a coincidence? 

On March 28, 2012, lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri  filed a petition for high treason (under Article 6, punishable by death) on behalf of the so-called ‘security and defence analyst’ Zaid Zaman Hamid in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad, against 17 respondents whom the petition terms ‘snakes’ (including your’s truly). Our alleged crimes include “Trying to project Quaid-e-Azam as secular leader, lowering the image of Allama Iqbal, aggressively attacking the image of armed forces and ISI”.

The respondents include the prominent human rights advocate and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir and journalists Continue reading

Caviar to the General

“Even if the agencies in other countries play this ‘august’ role of interrupting the democratic process in their countries, does it justify ISI’s doling out money to keep a certain political party of the people’s choice out of government? Now that’s dangerous, if the army thinks whatever happened in 1990 was justifiable and is an established way of agencies’ working around the world, it should worry every law-abiding citizen of Pakistan. If the army is insisting on being right when it dictates the democratic process, we need to worry about our future. In this case we really need to reflect what has really changed despite the army’s lip service that they don’t want to mingle in politics…” Marvi Sirmed, Caviar to the General.

‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

The equation as it should be: Army following policies set by the civilian elected government, not the other way round. (Reuters file photo)

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order. Continue reading

An Open Letter To Marvi Sirmed

An Open Letter To Marvi Sirmed by Usmann Rana. Thanks for speaking up.

Four years on…

Benazir Bhutto on her arrival in Karachi in Oct, 2007. Photo: Beena Sarwar

It’s four years since those pistol shots and bomb blast in Pindi’s Liaquat Bagh ended the life of Pakistan’s most promising politician and hope for democracy. There is no one to replace Benazir Bhutto but her legacy lives on in many ways. This is the first legitimately elected government ever in Pakistan to remain in office for as long as it has – and it will be the first to complete its tenure if allowed to do so and hand over power to the next elected government. This political process is essential to move Pakistan out of a quagmire that has taken decades to push us into. There are no quick fixes, no magic wands that can change things overnight. What’s important is the process and at least that is under way – thanks to Benazir Bhutto.

Thanks to YouTube, archival footage is now available to remind us of her legacy. Continue reading

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