‘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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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

BOSTON, March 8, 6.30 pm: Vigil for peace, in solidarity with Shi’ite Muslims of Pakistan

Photos I printed out recently, thinking of those whom these Takfiri militants have attacked, include two teenage girls who survived murderous attacks: Malala Yusufzai (top right), attacked by the same forces, for speaking out rather than for her faith, and Mehzar Zahra (below, left), whose father was killed.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. The vigil is going ahead.

Friday, March 8
6.30 pm
Copley Square, Boston

Students and community organizations of the Boston area are organizing a vigil on Friday March 8, 2013 to show solidarity, commemorate, and protest the target-killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. The attackers are armed militants from Al Qaeda- and Taliban- linked organizations acting with impunity in the name of religion with the aim of destablizing the state and capturing political power.

Just a few recent incidents this year alone illustrate this trend:

  • March 3: a bomb explosion ripped through two apartment blocks in Abbas Town, a residential area populated largely by Shi’ite Muslims, in Pakistan’s business capital Karachi killed 45 people, including 20 children. Hundreds more were injured and made homeless.

Continue reading

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