Remembering Tahira Mazhar Ali

A fighter at the barricadesI was sad to learn about the indomitable Tahira Mazhar Ali passing away. She was and will remain an inspiration for many. Below, my tribute to her published in Indian Express – Torchbearer for a progressive politics. Also see A fighter at the barricades in TNS, I.A. Rehman’s informative obituary for his old friend and comrade and Omar Warraich’s piece in The Independent, Tahira Mazhar Ali: Women’s rights campaigner who was the mother of Tariq Ali and acted as mentor to Benazir Bhutto. RIP Tahira Mazhar Ali (1925-2015) – my tribute in Indian ExpressContinue reading

Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Falsely accused of 'blasphemy' when he stood up for another accused, he paid for his stand with his life. AFP photo

Falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’ when he stood up for another accused, he paid for his stand with his life. AFP photo

My recent article for Viewpoint Online, published Jan 7, 2012: Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Enforce rule of law, expose hypocrisy of the Taliban mentality

Just over a year ago, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in the most cowardly manner by a government-assigned security guard. Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the Punjab Elite Force assigned to protect the Governor, pumped 27 bullets into his victim’s back as he headed to his car on the afternoon of January 4, 2011.

The sensational murder was no spontaneous act by an enraged fanatic. It was a well-thought out, cold-blooded plan. Was the executor acting alone, motivated only by ‘religious fervour’ as projected, or is there more to the issue than meets the eye? And even if his act was purely altruistic, should the law of the land not be applied to punish him? Continue reading

Pakistan: The ‘blasphemy’ issue | No shortcuts

Cartoon by Sabir Nazir | Viewpointonline.net

Originally published in Viewpoint Online, Nov 3, 2011

No shortcuts

Beena Sarwar

Watching Libyans celebrate the toppling of their dictator two things come to mind. First, Gaddafi’s apparent extra-judicial murder after being captured must be condemned. Secondly, a cautionary reminder: don’t expect the death or removal of a dictator to mark the end of the struggle. It is just the beginning of another struggle, an even messier one — the political process known as democracy. We in Pakistan know this all too well. Dictators die or get toppled but their legacies live on. Their creations like Zaid Hamid may lose, even as the creator Gen Zia wins (see Anas Abbas’ de-construction of this phenomenon at his blog) 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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