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Showing posts from March, 2006

The enemy within

A Syrian poet Abul 'Ala al Ma'arri writes:
‘We mortals are composed of two great schools
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.’

It is the religiously ignorant ‘fools’ that have plagued Islam for a long time. They are the real enemies of Islam because it is always easier to crush an outsider, but to banish the enemy within is a different task altogether. There are many radical elements in the Islamic world, and they have only managed to alienate the faithful from the righteous path. It is the duty of a Muslim to speak out against such voices because otherwise the world would continue to point fingers at us. If we don’t stand up against these radicals and what they stand for, they will keep destroying the beauty of Islam. One rotten apple spoils the whole basket — and we are letting it happen. The primary impetus for change must come from Muslims themselves.

So-called religious leaders, scholars and clerics continue to exploit the masses in the name of religion for their own v…

Women behind bars

According to a report published in The Post on March 22, more than 71 percent of the female prisoners in 30 jails of Punjab are awaiting or undergoing trial. This clearly indicates the paucity of legal remedies in our system. The Pakistani justice system is legendary for its delays and diversions. A majority of these women have actually served their sentences and more, but are still rotting in jails as no verdict has been passed. There is a joke in law circles that the closest anyone will come to experiencing eternity is the country’s court system. The problem is a strange aversion to settling cases. Judges pass them along to somebody else, and rarely dismiss lawsuits, no matter how frivolous. The result is judicial gridlock: Pakistan’s lower courts have a backlog of thousands of cases. The government must streamline the legal system or else the poor masses will keep suffering.

Nearly 80 percent of the more than 6,000 women on trial all over Pakistan are facing charges under the contro…

Comatose meanderings...

Something’s amiss
not sure what it is
There’s an emptiness still lingering inside of me
not sure what the source is
Trying to banish it out
but it won’t go away
Trying to fathom why ’tis there
finding no answer, I lie awake all night
Tossing and turning, with my heart burning
tears falling, I let it stay…
maybe because I don’t want it to go away?!?!

The lost middle ground in Islam

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair” -- Abraham Joshua Heschel (New York Journal-American, April 5, 1963).

Religion is very difficult to define. Just about everyone has their own interpretation of what they believe religion is or should be. The etymology of the word religion comes from the Latin word “religio”, which means “to bind”. The simple dictionary definition defines ‘religion’ as a group of beliefs concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions and rituals associated with such belief. It is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken many forms in various cultures and individuals.

In general life, the secret of success in any effort lies in our ability to keep a “just bal…

The IPI conundrum

The South Asian region is home to 1.3 billion people, close to a quarter of the world’s population. The region is currently experiencing a rapid growth in energy demand, concomitant with economic growth and industrialisation. Adequate energy supply is, therefore, a major challenge facing the economies in the region. Pakistan’s energy portfolio has been unbalanced for a long time. In recent years its economy has shown signs of improvement, thanks partly to the ‘war on terror’. But despite the improvement, Pakistan faces a looming crisis — deficiency of energy resources. The economy will not be able to sustain its present growth rates for long if the issue of energy deficiency is not resolved. The country may plunge into an energy crisis by the year 2007 due to rising electricity demand which is in double digits by now. The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project is in Pakistan’s interest because of our burgeoning energy needs and this should act as a catalyst to give a go-ahead …

And the blame game continues...

Suicide bombers have tried to kill Afghanistan’s Senate leader, Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, in an attack in which four people died. A suicide car bomb in Kabul Sunday rammed into the convoy of Mujaddedi, injuring him and killing four other people. Mujaddedi escaped with burns to his hands and face but two bystanders, a girl on her way to school and a man on a motorbike, were killed. Two attackers who drove the explosives-laden station wagon into the convoy also died, while five others were hurt. Former president Mujaddedi currently chairs the upper house of the new parliament and heads a commission working to encourage Taliban insurgents to surrender. He was obviously a high profile target because of his anti-Taliban stance – heading a commission trying to wean back the Taliban and being a member of the Karzai regime. There are contradictory claims about who is responsible for the Mujaddedi attack. Some reports say that no one has claimed responsibility, while other reports say that the T…

Go fly a kite now!

Punjab has banned kite-flying after strings coated with glass powder killed 10 people, including two children, ahead of an annual festival, a government statement said. The ban was announced late Thursday by the Chief Minister, Chaudry Pervaiz Elahi, outlawing all kinds of kite flying and the sale and manufacture of kites and cords, the statement said. Many people use strings coated with a paste containing glass powder or with iron wool to sever the strings of rival kites. Kite-flying has resulted in the killing of 460 people and injuring many thousands since 1995 after Basant was declared as a seasonal festival in the province. Most are killed when the strings fall across roads at head height and slit the throats of people on motorcycles. Two people were burnt to death when a metal cord hit a live wire and sparked a fire in their Lahore home this week. “We cannot allow people to play with the lives of ordinary citizens in the name of sport,” a statement issued from the Punjab CM’s of…