The return of Salmaan Taseer’s abducted son gives Pakistan another ray of hope

Very happy to be able to write about some good news – the recovery of Salmaan’s Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer, kidnapped nearly five years ago. Wrote this piece on March 8, 2016, for Scroll.in

The return of Salmaan Taseer's abducted son gives Pakistan another ray of hope

The best news coming out of Pakistan this week was about the recovery on Tuesday of Shahbaz Taseer, the abducted son of slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. The businessman, in his early thirties, had been kidnapped in August 2011 as he drove to his office in Lahore. Continue reading

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‘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

Desperate Fasadis trying to change Sindhi culture

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Muezzin by day, musician by night

Shikarpur and other areas of Sindh have always been famous for their tolerant, syncretic Sufi culture — and sweets. Not suicide attacks. That is obviously something that cowardly Takfiri Fasadis are trying desperately to change. From kidnapping and forced conversions of Hindu girls, to attacks on shrines and target killing of Ahmadis and Shias, they’re at it full throttle. Funded by Saudis and other sources in the Middle East, they are building massive madrassahs throughout the provice, huge buildings that look threatening and unfamiliar in a landscape where the traditional mosques have delicate minarets and people of all religions and sects have lived together peacefully for centuries.

On Saif Samejo‘s rooftop in Jamshoro a couple of summers ago, we were treated to music by some local folk musicians from Mithi. I did some sketches with ballpoint as they jammed. The man who plays the bhorindo (string instrument), on the left, is the maulvi of a masjid. Muezzin by day, musician by night. When the floods hit in 2010, he was approached by JUD to rebuild his mosque. He refused because “If I took money from them, I would be made to say what they want and my masjid would not be my own anymore.”

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

A tele-evangelist, poison in the body politic and murder most foul

Online petition to AamirLiaquat accountableI recently wrote ‘Poison in the body politic’ on the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, the hate-speech against them in public spaces and the impunity their attackers enjoy. One of the people I spoke to was Farooq Kahloun, an Ahmadi leader and successful businessman in Karachi who had left everything behind in Pakistan and taken political asylum in the USA after a murderous attempt on his life that left his son Saad Farooq dead two years ago. Four bullets still lodged in Kahloun’s body are a permanent reminder of the attack (details below) — and of the poison in Pakistan’s body politic, the menace of takfirismContinue reading

Move beyond conflict and ratings

Tributes to Peshawar terror attack victims

School children in Chennai pay tributes to Peshawar terror attack victims on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

Wrote this on Dec 18, 2014 for Lokmat Media, Pune: Situationer/ Comment on Peshawar attack aftermath in Pakistan, published on Dec 20 in three languages (below).

By Beena Sarwar

Two days after the horrific attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 148 people, most of them schoolchildren, an anti-terrorist court approved bail for Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, leader of the banned terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT).

Lakhvi is allegedly the mastermind behind the horrific attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and India has been demanding his extradition. India and Pakistan have not yet signed an extradition treaty though the possibility has been discussed in the past. He is unlikely to walk out on bail anytime soon. Prosecution lawyers said that the ATC decision came despite evidence against Lakhvi, and that they will challenge the decision. Continue reading

Pakistan Must Discard its ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ Narrative

MULLAH MOHAMMED OMAR

Pakistan needs to counter not just those who come out on the street in support of Taliban Inc. but also those who support them tacitly.

Thanks to The Huffington Post for inviting me to write this opinion piece, published on Dec. 17, 2014.

By Beena Sarwar

The world looks on with horror at the Pakistani Taliban’s barbaric murder of 145 children and teachers at a school in Peshawar.

Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has termed the Peshawar attack a national tragedy, announced three days of national mourning and promised to eradicate the terrorists, real change won’t occur unless Pakistan discards the “good Taliban, bad Taliban” narrative and moves to decisively uphold the rule of law. Continue reading

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