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Showing posts from March, 2012

Left: the missing link in Pak politics

Today, Pakistan is battling one crisis after another. Most of these problems are linked with the civil-military imbalance and our warped national security paradigm. One of the biggest threats to our social fabric is religious extremism. The partition of the Indian subcontinent took place for many reasons but from the day Pakistan came into being, the ‘religion’ card has been used as if it was the raison d'ĂȘtre for our country’s existence. The military and the ruling elite have used religion to further their interests. The tragedy of Pakistan is that our political spectrum is heavily tilted towards the Right. Left politics is sadly missing.

When Pakistan came into being, the Left faced the worst possible adversity due to its ideals and beliefs, which were in stark contrast with that of the feudals, Islamists and the ruling elite (military, bureaucracy and the political class). The leftists were perceived as a grave threat to the overall subservient-to-imperialism culture prevalent …

Murderers running amok

“Without tolerance, our world turns into hell” — Friedrich Durrenmatt.

A year ago on this day (March 2), Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated. His assassination took place less than two months after Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard. Both of them were ardent supporters of minority rights. Both of them were vocal about the country’s archaic blasphemy laws. Both of them received death threats as a result. These threats were as real in Mr Bhatti’s case as they were in Mr Taseer’s. But both men were principled and fearless. In the end, both of them met the same fate. They were assassinated by fanatic butchers.

In an interview with the BBC after Mr Taseer’s assassination, Shahbaz Bhatti said, “I was told that if I was to continue the campaign against the blasphemy law, I will be assassinated. I will be beheaded. But forces of violence, forces of extremism cannot harass me, cannot threaten me.” The debate on blasphemy laws slowly died d…

Mourning Shahbaz Bhatti

March 2, 2011, will be remembered as a dark day in the history of Pakistan, especially with regards to minority rights. Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated in broad daylight in Islamabad. His assassins escaped. Mr Bhatti was killed within two months of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer’s assassination. Mr Taseer was also killed in Islamabad. They were both killed because they dared to raise their voice for a poor Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who is still rotting away in a Pakistani prison, fearing for her life. Mr Taseer and Mr Bhatti were critical of the country’s man-made blasphemy laws as these laws are misused to target minorities and even Muslims as a cover for personal and/or property/financial disputes. The debate on the blasphemy laws may have died after two of the most high profile assassinations in a span of two months but has the government given up on catching the killers of Mr Bhatti? In December 2011, Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed that …

Setting a good precedent

In a written reply to the Supreme Court regarding the 11 missing prisoners, the ISI and MI chiefs wrote, “They (the spy agencies) chase and hound those who play into the hands of the enemies of our dearest homeland.” ‘Hound’ they do, not even those who are the ‘enemies’ of this country but countless others who are innocent but are penalised by the spy agencies for dissenting views. It seems that our intelligence agencies are above the law. It would not be wrong to ask then, what exactly is the mandate of the spy agencies? The ISI was created as an internal intelligence agency for the armed forces to ensure that there was no breach of national security within the military. Instead, thanks to Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later the Afghan jihad, the ISI’s mandate was somehow changed. In the 80s, due to the very nature of covert operations, ISI officers were allowed to function autonomously. Thus, the ISI came to be seen as a ‘state within a state’. Later, especially during Musharraf’s era,…